Meebo offers a Web based instant messaging service that supports AIM, ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, Jabber/GTalk and MSN.
Unlike Gmail's chat client, you cannot move the conversations away from the browser window. The Buddy List and the chat windows remain movable and resizable, but only within the browser window. The benefit to this, if you are like me and constantly have several chats going on at once, is that you can minimize the window or move to another tab and all of the chat messages are hidden. No more flashing orange message notifications in your task bar. Instead, the text in the title bar blinks when you have received a new message. If you are using Firefox, the text in the tab blinks.
Another benefit to using browser based chat is that you have access to your chat clients wherever you have an Internet connection without the need to install any additional software.
There are some areas in which the service could be improved upon. For instance, it would be nice if chatrooms and conferencing were supported. AIM users cannot connect directly in order to transfer files. File transferring is not supported at all. I'd also like to see a way to save chat history.
The developers have set up a forum where users can submit bugs and offer suggestions so I'm confident that in time this service will advance to offer new features and perhaps one day take the place of the multiple chat clients that currently cloud my desktop space.
Stacy Reed is Tucows' resident software librarian and editor. She has been reviewing PC and mobile software as well as web services for over a decade. Helping developers improve and promote their products is only one of her areas of expertise. Stacy is also an advocate for Open Source, Creative Commons and freeware, taking special interest in educational resources, social media, cloud sharing, and mobile technology.