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actually, I have accounts with each, also icq and skype
there are also other clients like gaim, trillian, amsn among many, many others.
they are all a little different but mostly have the same features.
<added>there are also encryption add ons for all them around as well
This way you can talk to anyone you want no matter what service.
When you register we ask for information such as your name, email address, birth date, gender, zip code, occupation, industry, and personal interests. For some financial products and services we may also ask for your address, Social Security number, and information about your assets. Once you register with Yahoo! and sign in to our services, you are not anonymous to us.
Yahoo! collects information about your transactions with us and with some of our business partners, including information about your use of financial products and services that we offer.
Yahoo! automatically receives and records information on our server logs from your browser, including your IP address, Yahoo! cookie information, and the page you request.
Yahoo! uses information for the following general purposes: to customize the advertising and content you see, fulfill your requests for products and services, improve our services, contact you, conduct research, and provide anonymous reporting for internal and external clients
Im not sure if I want to use such a product if they collect every information.
Trillian and Gaim are just programs that let you use any of the major chat networks. It is no big deal to sign up for a free Y! ID or one from hotmail. I personally have accounts with Aol messenger, Y! and Hotmail - which lets me IM just about anyone and instead of running 3 separate programs, I just run Trillian. It also notifies my if I have email - since I use a Y! email address for my Amazon account, as an example.
I also have trillian and love it, but it has always been very buggy for me. So if a stable and secure program are a priority for you, I wouldn't recommend it. Even if you do get trillian, you will still have to sign up for an account with the other messenger services.
When you install AIM and Yahoo messenger clients, make sure to READ what you are installing. They will try to put all kinds of crap on your machine if you aren't paying attention and go with the default install.
Trillian was alright in the beginning, but got tired of it, so an uninstall was in order.
They all run in the background if I want them to.
Another thing is that it is already installed on WinXP which makes it even for my parents easy to sign up now they have a new computer :).
I also use ICQ and Yahoo. However ICQ looks too dull and old as well is quite slow in sending messages.
Yahoo has the problem that it is not possible to hide for just a couple people. You have to hide for everone or noone. (In MSN you can just block a couple people you don't like to talk to for a day or 2).