I’ve been thinking over the instant messaging clients I’ve used in the past, most of which I never even log into these days. There was ICQ, Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger, AIM – I had a log on for them all. Sadly due to lack of interoperability between instant messenger clients I consolidated my use down to just one – Skype.
What prompted me to recall my instant messaging past was the news that firewalls are now able to block Skype traffic and prevent users on corporate networks communicating with the outside world. I didn’t have that problem in the old days – I couldn’t even install the software in the first place. Most of the companies I worked for locked users PCs so that they couldn’t download and install applications (It constantly amazes me that companies don’t do the same today!). The inability to install wasn’t a problem because my then favourite Instant Messaging client, Yahoo! Messenger, had a web browser based version.
You can still log onto a web based version of Yahoo! Messenger today. The great advantage for me was I could chat to my friends with no software to install and at the same time feel slightly smug that I’d outwitted the IT department by using unauthorised software. Everything worked including file transfers to and from friends!
The big question is why have Skype been so slow to introduce a browser based version of their software? Why can’t I go to the Skype website from any PC anywhere in the world and simply log on to the service? Why do I have to download and install software? Yahoo! had a browser based solution some ten years or so ago, downloads are so outdated!