Hello Google Talk – Goodbye MSN Messenger

So I have been searching for a long time for a replacement for MSN Messenger and it now MSN Live Messenger.  My issues with messenger?  It is too big and bulky, it doesn’t look nice (UI is bad), ads (I really hate these), and all the extra stuff that I don’t need.

So I tried a few different alternatives such as GAIM, aMSN, and Instan-T Messenger, before I found an alternative that I liked.  I should say that I found Kopete for Linux (that is the app I use in Linux) that is really nice but it doesn’t work on Windows. 

Gaim and aMSN both had pretty old looking UI’s as well so I was not all for those.  Instan-T was pretty good but file transfers had problems and I kept getting invitations from strange people.

Finally I thought about how much I used to like Google Talk when it first came out.  I stopped using it because it didn’t have file transfer capabilities and none of my friends used it.  Bummer. 

I recently heard that Google Talk had added file transfer support so I decided to look into it again and see if I could get my msn contacts in Google Talk.  I’m happy to report that Google talks UI is even better than before.  GTalk is small, simple and elegant in use.  It is easy to configure and doesn’t a ton of other stupid stuff like games.  It is just a chat client that doesn’t get in my way.  I’m even happier to report that there is a way to get any chat protocols contacts in GTalk.  Yeah!!!!

I have found this to be so cool that I decided to post the instructions here for everyone to use if they want some of the same things that I was looking for.  I must warn you that it is not super easy.  It is a little tricky but I think I have put together a pretty good little guide. 

First of all, GTalk is based on the Jabber Open Source XML technology that is mainly used for instant messaging.  So there are like a million different jabber clients that can be used for instant messaging.  The problem is that many of the other IM clients use other languages or protocols or whatever – they just don’t work together.   

We need to use a transport sever that can convert the messages from one IM system to another.  So using a transport sever we can now use any of the jabber applications for msn, yahoo, or whatever other type of messaging system we have friends on.  Very cool!

So here is the hard part, we need to locate a transport sever for the sevice that we want to transport to google talk and then we need to configure it to work with google talk.  This is a little more difficult because google talk does not have an interface to configure a transport.  We have to use another jabber client to accomplish that step, but it isn’t too hard. 

So to get started, download and install both Google Talk, and Psi.  So I did like Psi as well so if you end up liking that one I recommend it.  Launch Google talk and login.  So if you already have gmail accound then you already have a login and password for google talk.  Otherwise you can set one up through google talk. 

Now to configure Psi and set up the transport.  Launch Psi and see the instructions here to configure it for use with google talk.  A couple of the menus changed so let me know if you have any questions about that part. 

Now to setup a transport.  You need to decide how many you will need.  For instance if you only have friends on msn, then you just need a msn tranport.  If you have them on other systems such as yahoo then you will need another one to work with yahoo.  This part will make or break you experince.  These transports run on servers that anyone can set up.  So some work better than others.  You can set up your own if you want!!  Here is a list of some available transport servers.  I have tried a few and I have now found one that seems to work pretty well which I will share with you soon.  More to come so stay tuned!!

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