Google finally announced one of the worst-kept secrets of the year – its move into instant messaging.
Google Talk, a free IM and voice telephony client is still very much a work-in-progress. Text IM is basic but very functional (no graphical smiley icons, no font control and other fancy features now considered standard on other platforms), while the free voice calling (only between Google Talk users, no dialling out to landlines – yet) uses the same audio codec as Skype’s client.
Users will need a Gmail account, as Google Talk shares login authentication with Gmail, as well as checking your Gmail account for new messages (replacing Gmail Notifier).
The Google Talk client is for Windows XP/2000 only. Thankfully, the Google Talk service is based on the open source Jabber platform, so Mac users can use the latest verison of iChat to connect to the service, and numerous third party solutions such as Trillian Pro are supported.
Early days, but the initial playing I have done is encouraging.