Until about a year ago, it seemed to me like most Australians on the IM circuit were on ICQ. I’ve been on ICQ so long I have a 7 digit UIN (though I forgot about it for a while, and subsequently have an 8 digit one I use more often, in the 26-million range, if that dates it).
But it became apparent that (like Hotmail) MSN Messenger was bigger than I thought. Even among people I knew, there were a number of people who I didn’t IM with, but who used MSN. Ditto Yahoo Messenger (which has some popularity with corporate users, since it’s long been usable through firewalls using HTTP). I understand AOL Instant Messenger is huge in the States, due to the vast numbers of people who use AOL as an ISP, but virtually nobody in Australia uses it.
When I realised I knew people who were on MSN but not on ICQ, I moved over to Trillian, which of course works with all of these. Although Trillian isn’t perfect with every protocol (some older versions didn’t do well with ICQ’s file transfer, for instance) even the free version is pretty damn good, and on my aging 2000-era PC, I’d rather not be filling my meagre 256Mb RAM by running lots of clients.
But even when I do get my brand spanking new super-duper fast-as-you-like mega-PC (before too long), I won’t want the hassles with clicking around on multiple windows just to talk to everybody. That’s just silly.