Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Google Talk

Google yesterday released Google Talk ,their Instant Messaging(IM) service. It has been received with some mixed response by the community.Here's my take.. First off, the technology powering Google Talk is nothing new, they use the open source IM server called Jabber. InfyLUG folks and a few people who follow InfyLUG activities would remember that we already had a Jabber server running on Infosys network during the whole Microsoft Messenger downtime.So in a way Infosys came out with Jabber usage before even Google.YAY to Infy! Next what google has done is use it's Google Mail service as the backbone for it's IM services.Well that's nothing new, Yahoo! and MSN have been doing that for years now.Well, so what is different in Google Talk ? The best thing is the open spec's on which Jabber stands.This is a big plus for indie developers who want to create services which interoperate between other IM services.Some time back Y! made a major change in their IM protocol and this affected all the third party clients like GAIM and Trillian.This problem will never exist with GTalk.Second is the integration with VOIP and SIP based voice protocols.Again the open ended nature will mean that VOIP based communication can be integrated into web services and other products.Just imagine what would happen if GTalk-VOIP can be embedded into a webpage and basically anybody can hold a conference by just signing into a webpage using their Google ID and start talking.This is possible now with GTalk,earlier thanks to MSN and Y! this was impossible. Next is the support for third party clients.You can now use GTalk on Linux(GAIM),Mac OS(iChat) and a lost of clients for Windows(Trillian,Adium etc) With Google's own talk you get the feature of searching through your mail right from your IM client. However, as of now, GTalk's features are pretty "prehistoric",it's where Yahoo Messenger was 4 years back.No customizations/skinning on it's chat client.File transfer is still missing.Group Chat is still in a very nascent stage.So basically it's at the lowest rung of popular IM services available for the community.However all this will change as more people start using their Google mail Id's on GTalk because everyone now has a GMail account.Another problem is no Chat history logs.All chat transcripts are URL encoded, meaning they cannot be parsed and searched for,also this a cause of worry as chat transcripts are being sent back to Google HQ for archival. :O Integration with Skype;Oh! this is the biggie, if Google can manage to pull this off then it's Game-Set-Match Google.With over $4 bn in it's cofers this is quite possible.All industry pundits are hinting at this in one way or another, either they will acquire Skype or integrate with the Skype userbase.Either way it's a win-win for Google. Well, it looks like it's good times ahead in the IM battle and a few battlelines will have to be redrawn. What really impressed me was the "no bloat" attitude of GTalk.Basically just install,configure and your good to go.Y! and MSN of late have been packing more and more stuff into their IM client and this really made me take a break from IM, thanks to Google I think I can get back with my lost love. All said I would give 3/5 for GTalk featurewise and a Special 5/5 for "what can be done with GTalk".Let's just give it some time and till then get back to our IM roots, a world of plain text and no ImEnvironments and crappy ads flowing into our desktop.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License. My Way My blog. Toufeeq Hussain