ICQWhat was the first platform you used for instant messaging? Mine was ICQ. I started using it back in grade nine – over 10 years ago. When I think of ICQ I remember the distinctive “Uh-oh!” it’d play when someone sent an IM.

Some of my friends were using it a while before me; I was a little late on the Internet bandwagon. You see, I didn’t get my own PC until the summer of ’98, but I digress. Just as I was getting used to ICQ, a new IM client started to emerge. It began with one friend here and there, and then everyone had it. MSN Messenger, with its fancy avatars and easy access to e-mail, was a big departure from bland ICQ where the only outlet for creativity was our user names (which in some cases may have had every character on on the computer).

Windows Live MessengerFor the past nine years or so I’ve been a regular user of Windows Live Messenger, as it has come to be named (though everyone still says MSN), to talk to friends. However, in that time – and especially recently – there have been many additions to the ways I can IM with them. Just to name a few, we have: MSN, ICQ, Facebook Chat, Myspace IM, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), Yahoo! Messenger, Skype, Google Talk (Gtalk), and even twitter can be thrown into the mix.

I’m wondering, with the supposed popularity of IM’ing, are there too many options out there? Are all these added services killing this once often used, conversation tool of mine?

I’m a big fan of keeping in contact with friends, and a lot of it is done through IM’ing, simply because it’s convenient. Now that Facebook has its own IM option, (note: it requires you to log in) it’s possible to connect with friends while checking your wall. Gmail has Google Talk,  which is similar to MSN. Users can access the IM client through their e-mail or they can download it.

Windows Live messenger still reigns supreme

Google TalkAccording to a 2006 (if you can find a more recent one let me know!) report by comScore Networks, a digital measurement company, Windows’ Messenger is used by 61 per cent of the world’s IM’ing population. Regardless of Messenger’s IM supremacy, I’m finding with all these ways to connect online, I’m less likely to start a conversation, opting instead to (for the most part) only chat with people who contact me first.

As some of my readers know, I’m a big fan of social media sites and pretty much anything online. However, I miss the days of connecting with friends by striking up a conversation on ICQ and then MSN, when there fewer options. Now, no matter what site I go it seems, there’s an option to IM with people, which makes it less appealing and more of a chore I want to avoid.