Sick of MSN Messenger and Yahoo Chat? There is a free chat alternative called Jabber, and it works with all of your friends that are on Gmail!
Here is a tutorial on how to chat for free with Jabber:
First step, download the free chat program called Pidgin. It works on Windows and Linux. The great thing about Pidgin is that it also works with Yahoo Chat and MSN Messenger so you can login to many chat systems at the same time.
If you are on Windows and don't have admin access to install a messenger program, use the Pidgin Portable version instead.
If you are on a Mac, try PSI or check out the long list of free chat programs that work with Jabber.
After you have installed your Jabber software (Pidgin in this case), launch the program and go to the following option on the main menu: Accounts > Add/Edit. You can also use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl-a to add a new chat account.
Here is what the screen looks like in Linux:
The important settings are:
Protocol: XMPP (same as "Jabber")
Screen name: [you choose]
Password: [you choose]
Create this new account on the server? [check this box]
After you click the "Save" button, Pidgin will send your information to Jabber.org. Within a few seconds you should get a message like the one below confirming that you want to create the Jabber account:
Click the "Register" button to confirm, and you should see a message like the following one:
Then go back to your IM account manager (keyboard shortcut: Ctrl-a), and check the box next to your new Jabber account to enable it. You will then get a message welcoming you to Jabber:
The next step is to add your friends. If they have a Gmail email account you can add them as buddies. The keyboard shortcut for adding buddies is Ctrl-b. Just enter your friend's Gmail email address and click "Add" as shown below, and you will be able to chat with them:
You can still use Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger at the same time as Jabber until you can convince all of your friends to also make the switch!