Guide to Free Instant Messenger Software

June 5, 2011, By Christian Cawley

There are so many chat networks online – and as a result there are many chat clients. Some of these support multiple networks, others are dedicated to one single network.

Whichever network you’re using, you should be able to access it from your Windows or Mac OS X computer. At this stage, it is worth pointing out that anyone wishing to connect solely to the Microsoft MSN network – now known as Windows Live – can do so using Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger (see below) but if you wish to also have access to other chat networks, you will need to select from a small group of network-specific client applications, which are are described as “multiprotocol”.

Free Instant Messenger software for your computerUsually, instant messengers are free, and there is genuinely no benefit in paying a subscription to any chat client that doesn’t offer something exceptional (such as Skype’s ability to call landlines).

Along with the obvious choice of Windows Live Messenger, there are several other chat clients that can be used to both connect to the Windows Live network and other popular chat networks such as Yahoo!, AOL’s AIM network, Google Talk and Facebook.

Pidgin – available from, this chat client can be downloaded free. Supporting Yahoo!, Windows Live/MSN, AIM, MySpaceIM, Google Talk and many more, Pidgin also supports many international languages, as well as incorporating many common chat features, such as file transfer, status messages and custom smilies.

Palringo – this free Windows desktop chat client can be downloaded from and gives connections to Windows Live/MSN, AIM, Yahoo!, Google Talk and Facebook Chat. As with most of these multiprotocol chat clients, no camera or voice chat is available with Palringo although there is an option to send short voice clips and images. One of the great benefits of Palringo is that there are mobile versions available for Android, iPhone and BlackBerry devices, allowing you to stick to the same chat client across almost any platform.

Trillian – one of the best known multiprotocol chat clients, Trillian has moved with the times, now offering Windows Live, Yahoo, MySpace, AIM, Google Talk and even Facebook and Twitter access, not to mention browser-based chat. Find out more at where you can download different versions of the software depending on your needs – a premium version (Trillian Pro) is also available, which allows webcam and voice chat across supported networks.

Finally – Why Not Try Windows Live Messenger?

…or for that matter, Yahoo! Instant Messenger? After all, both chat clients have been offering chat across both networks for a couple of years now. The chances are, if you have Windows Live Messenger already installed (available from the Windows Live download) then along with your Windows Live/Hotmail contacts you can also communicate with Yahoo! users too. Note that Mac OS X users can only access Windows Live Messenger via Microsoft Office: Mac 2011.

Similarly, Yahoo! Instant Messenger allows chat access with the Windows Live/MSN network – available free from, this IM client also affords access to the massive selection of Yahoo chat rooms.

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