Too many messaging systems?
In the heyday of Messenger’s popularity, I had very little reason to use any of the other instant messaging services on a regular basis, because (almost) everyone used Messenger!
However, today’s XKCD comic expresses my current situation perfectly:
To further explain, here’s a screenshot of the messaging section of my taskbar.
There’s at least nine applications for instant messaging, not counting that some connect to more than one chat service. Within each application, I tend to have a completely different group of contacts, and some are used more so for audio, group, or exclusively text communication.
Although over time I’ve become more accustomed to knowing which contact is trying to talk to me on which application, and the required CPU and memory usage for each application hasn’t been too noticeable in general usage, searching for information can be quite difficult as the message history for each contact usually can only be searched within the application or service itself (or virtually not at all, Google Hangouts).
Recently Microsoft has shown that they are working on a feature (called My People) for Windows 10 that would pin contacts to the taskbar instead of individual applications. The feature has been delayed and may not work with existing desktop applications (which should be the subject of another article), so this may or may not help the situation.
Messenger on its own originally supported both the .NET Messenger Service/Windows Live and AOL Instant Messenger, and you can still see the basis of this if you hover over a contact in Messenger 2012 (look for the Networks: heading).
Additionally, Messenger originally supported a full API back in the 90s to allow others applications to fully communicate through Messenger without evening opening the program. This was quickly abused and scaled back slightly but the API is still usable and was made use of in tools like Messenger Plus!, Outlook, Outlook Express and others. Almost no instant messaging applications support this level of control now.
I’m curious how many messaging applications others use, so I’ve made a poll on the forum where you can indicate which applications you actively use on your PC.