My mainstay instant messenger program is Trillian. I use it primarily because I can't stand having a bunch of different programs for different messenger services. In addition, Trillian has a very light footprint (meaning it will not bog down your system.)
There are more than a few people who are absolutely fed up with the way instant messengers are delivered. In a moment I will be describing how to use Trillian and make it a simple, text based only tool - meaning no smileys, no graphics, no file transfers, nuttin'. Just text, the way it's meant to be. (grin)
Why Yahoo Messenger sucks:
The last time I tried Ya-Whore Yahoo Messenger, it pissed me off because it installed a bunch of crap I didn't want it to, AND it would not uninstall itself completely when I asked it to. All I wanted when I installed it originally was the messenger. I didn't want mail, I didn't want that stupid Yahoo! Toolbar, I didn't want to install any "Yahoo Experience" stuff (a dismal one at best,) all I wanted was a messenger.
Why AOL Instant Messenger sucks:
One word can describe AO-Hell AOL Instant Messenger best: Ads. And ads we got. Lots of 'em. They're everywhere. Also, by installing this messenger, you will have icons placed for AOL services all over your computer, like in the browser, on your START MENU in two to three different places... and it's just all very very annoying. Blah. Let's not forget the ads every time you even look at the messenger.
Why Microsoft Network (MSN) Messenger sucks:
Very bloated application. Way too graphical. It slows everything down and then tries to convince you to "integrate" it into everything else with that god-awful Passport crap. Also this software is VERY hard to get rid of.
Why ICQ Sucks:
ICQ used to be the coolest instant messenger app out there. It ran great, didn't force anything on you and it was fun to use. That's all changed. ICQ is one of the largest (if not the largest) applications just for instant messaging. It's unbelievably full of crap, making it almost impossible to enjoy using it at all. Like AOL, it's full of ads a-plenty.
The solution: Trillian
a) It's free (but there is a "pro" version available for purchase which includes extra goodies).
b) It's small.
c) It simultaneously connects to AOL/Yahoo/MSN/ICQ and also does IRC. And it will only connect to what you want it to connect to.
My trillian setup:
In the way I have my Trillian set up, I purposely turn off everything. No buddy icons, no emoticons, no file transfers and no text formatting. It's nothing but plain honest-to-goodness text. I also set it up so that it doesn't just pop forward whenever I'm in the middle of doing something.
The first thing I do is install the skin Silver-XP. This is by far my favorite because it plainly shows what type of chatter is chatting you. Example:
You can see that AIM's/Yahoo's or whatever are distinguished easily.
The next thing I do is turn off all the formatting/font/sound crap in Preferences:
On the File Transfer area of Preferences I turn all that off. If someone wants to send me a file bad enough, they can e-mail it.
All Buddy icons are turned off. Couldn't care less about those stupid things.
And I purposely set it to not just thrust a window to the front when someone chats me (it's just as bad as pop-ups).
Trust me, keep your messaging like this and all of a suddent it's "Wow, I can actually enjoy chatting again!" (grin)