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ntIn this edition of Five Apps, we take a look at five instant messaging systems that are designed to be used within a private corporate network. These systems are generally client-server based (with one exception), have various feature sets, and are priced by client, by server, both, or u2013 in one case u2013 free. Be sure to take a look at the Five Apps article for more details and pricing on these five systems.
ntThe BigAnt Instant Messenger server console is fairly plain, but don’t let that dissuade you. Beneath the hood is a fairly customizable, text, voice, and video chat system with several administrator-friendly options such as Active Directory import and message logging.
ntScreenshot of BigAnt Console by Wally Bahny for TechRepublic
ntThe BigAnt client is a fairly standard-looking IM client but has a feature set that is competitive with the more popular Internet-based IM clients. The ability to look at your contact list in various ways, including online-only and favorites, as well as the aforementioned voice and video chat make it a nice system.
ntScreenshot of BigAnt client by Wally Bahny for TechRepublic
ntBopup Communication Server’s feature set is a step down from BigAnt but the server console is a bit more user friendly and has a better appearance.
ntScreenshot of Bopup Communication Server Console by Wally Bahny for TechRepublic
ntThe Bopop Messenger client is also very basic-looking, but it gives you what you need for a text-based messaging system.
ntScreenshot of Bopup Messenger by Wally Bahny for TechRepublic
ntDBabble, on the other hand, has a very plain-looking web-based server console, but that belies its enormous customizability. With DBabble, administrators can change nearly every piece of text visible in the Windows or Web client. DBabble also has an enormous load capacity – reported at 10,000+ concurrent users per server.
ntScreenshot of DBabble Server Console by Wally Bahny for TechRepublic
ntThe DBabble Windows client is also very plain-looking but it gives you what you need for text-based chat services.
ntScreenshot of DBabble Windows client by Wally Bahny for TechRepublic
ntOpenfire is a free, open source system licensed under the Open Source Apache License. The web-based server console is quite a bit more user-friendly than DBabble – approaching that of Bopup’s Windows-based console. Openfire has a fairly basic feature set – just text – but is extendable using the many plugins available on their website, including voice and video chat.
ntScreenshot of Openfire Server Console by Wally Bahny for TechRepublic
ntSpark, Openfire’s client software, is basically as user-friendly as some of the earlier IM systems and just offers the basic in terms of features.
ntScreenshot of Spark by Wally Bahny for TechRepublic
ntOur final selection, Winpopup, is an extremely basic IM system. There is very little to configure on the server side, but that’s okay because the server is not actually needed for small groups.
ntScreenshot of Winpopup Server Console by Wally Bahny for TechRepublic
ntWinpopup LAN Messenger is fully capable of workgroup-based peer-to-peer communications without the need for a dedicated server system. However, it has a basic feature set and felt to me like a clunky interface, especially given that the client software is really all there is to the Winpopup system.
ntScreenshot of Winpopup LAN Messenger by Wally Bahny for TechRepublic