Battle of the All-In-One IM Services

Instant messaging being innovative is a thing of the past. And all-in-one services are hardly innovative, but important to productivity and convenience.

Combine Skype, Google Talk, AIM, Yahoo Messenger, MSN Messenger, ICQ, Jabber, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpaceIM, and more all into one easy to manage tool.

Why would someone need an all-in-one? Well, if you’re an online pro or extremely social, you need to be available on all available IM services. You can’t expect everyone to switch to what you’re using. If you don’t mind having eight different IM desktop clients going at the same time, well, good luck with that.

But, there are just too many to choose from now and too many compromises. There just doesn’t seem to be one perfect all-in-one IM service yet. Let me quickly breakdown all the popular ones I’ve come across in the past few days:

I’ve been using Meebo for a while in conjunction with the stand-alone version of Skype, until I got a nasty and smart virus. I decided to do a fresh install, and in doing so, I finally decided to upgrade from XP to Windows 7. Big mistake… but that’s a whole other article.

Long story short, I absolutely cannot get Skype working on my new setup. So, I decided it might be time to look into what advancements have been made in all-in-ones and see if I could just get something that would run Skype. I found what I thought was the perfect solution with the Trillian desktop client. It seemed perfect, other than the fact that I still couldn’t get Skype working with it and apparently many other Trillian users can’t either.

I decided maybe I’d rather stick with the new era and look for an online service anyway (Trillian has one, but it doesn’t support Skype). I ended up trying IMO, no-go once again. I’ve finally settled on IM+. It works, but it doesn’t seem very feature-rich and it’s not especially pretty to look at. There is a IM+ Pro for iPhone that I would gladly get if I could get it to run on Firefox (thinking about an iPhone emulator).

Right now, the fundamental problem seems to be that the services available either have lots of great features and plenty of options, even email and social media support, but no Skype, or Skype, but not a whole lot else. The reason it’s hit or miss with Skype is because it uses a completely different chat protocol than most IMs, and apparently, is much more difficult to work with for third-parties.

Did I miss any great services? What do you use? I’m willing to pay for pro versions if anyone has any suggestions.