Using Instant Messenger Services. (In-Service)

By Branzburg, Jeffrey | Technology & Learning, November 2002 | Go to article overview

Using Instant Messenger Services. (In-Service)


Branzburg, Jeffrey, Technology & Learning


In addition to e-mail and the World Wide Web, instant messaging (commonly called "IM") is one of the most popular services on the Internet.

In its simplest form, instant messaging allows users to have instant, live, text-based "chats" with others over the Internet. Unlike e-mail, in which one sends a message that is stored in the recipient's electronic mailbox until he or she logs on to read it, when using an IM service both sender and recipient are online simultaneously; the moment one sends a message, the other sees it on his or her screen.

The first popular IM service was ICQ ("I Seek You"), developed by Mirabilis. America Online, though, is credited with popularizing instant messaging with AOL Instant Messenger, which it provides to Internet users as part of its browser software or as a separate download. This has enabled even non-AOL subscribers to IM. Other popular services are MSN Messenger from Microsoft (and its Windows XP version, called Windows Messenger For Windows XP) and Yahoo Messenger from Yahoo.

How Does IM Work?

You begin by installing the IM software on your computer (if it was not preinstalled). The IM software, referred to as "client" software, communicates with the IM server, letting it know you are logged on. You then create a contact list (sometimes called a buddy list) of the people with whom you wish to communicate. Each person is identified by a unique user ID they create. If a contact is also logged on, then the server lets each of you know that the other is available to send and receive messages.

What Else Can an IM System Do?

Besides sending and receiving text messages, IM systems may have some or all of these features.

* Chat: Join a number of your contacts to exchange messages in a private chat room. …

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