Years ago, Cerulean Studios (http://www.ceruleanstudios.com/) published an all-in-one chat program which supports ICQ, AIM, MSN, Yahoo, and IRC. Currently, they’re working on alpha testing a MySpace plug-in to replace MySpace IM, which is known to have errors when run on dial-up or slow computers (regardless of connection speed). Overview of Trillian’s features:
Direct connection/file transfer capabilities.
Conversation and status logging.
Customisable skins available for download at the CS website.
Tabbed chat windows.
$19.95 upgrade to Pro (but Basic is free).
MySpace IM plug-in.
Background customisation (the color you select merely highlights your text with the AIM plug-in, rather than filling the background).
Reliable file transfers for dial-up users.
*When you download the program, you’re asked to get the latest QuickTime plug-in to support video conferencing, but from what I’ve read it doesn’t matter if you do or not. The literature suggests you have to pay the $19.95 fee to activate video conferencing and upgrade to Trillian Pro, which is supposed to open all kinds of windows to alpha test Trillian. However, if you do have the Pro version, you can download all kinds of various mods for Trillian; dictionaries, translators, emoticons and sounds, etc.
A drawback of Trillian is that anyone with a slow connection cannot download the program from the main website and will have to find an older version elsewhere. I recommend here: http://filehippo.com/download_trillian/ and suggest you save the file, rather than running it, so you can transfer it easily to other computers via CD or thumb drive.
Meebo is hosted by http://wwwl.meebo.com and supports MSN, AIM, Yahoo and ICQ; IRC is not supported. File transfers are not supported. You can sign up with Meebo to create an all-in-one account which stores all your usernames and passwords under one account. Signing in to your Meebo account will sign you into all your favorite messengers. The good news with Meebo is that you can access your accounts anywhere with no download required, nor is there any upgrade option or fee. There are no advertisements.
If you only need an all-in-one messenger for a short time, Meebo is probably best for you. If you still need file transfers, you’ll need to use Trillian.
There is another freeware all-in-one messenger called Miranda, but it crashed every time I tried to use it. You might have better luck (http://www.miranda-im.org/download/). You can also download over 100 free add-ons for this program, such as tabbed viewing and improved history browsers. Miranda supports AIM, Yahoo, MSN, Netsend, Jabber, Inter-Asterisk Exchange (IAX), IRC, ICQ, E-Mage, Tlen, and Gadu-Gadu. It includes no advertising, and the program is small enough to fit on a floppy (less than 1.44 MB).
Hope this was beneficial.