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Tired of the Google Talk rumors? Read this:

Updated

google talk.gifIt's official: Google has launched a Google instant messenger/chat service, called Google Talk.

Yes, Google shared the news with us a couple of days ago. Alas, they required us to hold to an embargo of this evening, 9pm, as a condition of being included. So we've faithfully sat on this all day, even as many other folks have reported on elements of it.

So here's the fully story, to run in the Mercury News tomorrow....

Google already offers everything from e-mail to social networking. Now the popular Mountain View search engine company is jumping in with another popular form of communication: Google Talk, where you can instant message and chat with your friends directly from your computer to theirs.

Google also may unleash a voice service that lets you call fixed-line phones too, the company said. It's Google's latest effort to expand beyond simple search into a wide array of communication services. It is also taking on competitors Yahoo, AOL and Microsoft's MSN, which already offer instant messaging and chat and are also trying to upgrade their voice communications -- though it has been slow-going.

google client.gif"We always thought of communications as an important part of managing information,'' said Georges Harik, director of product management at Google. ""If you're using email, sometimes you want to get a hold of someone immediately."

You can only use Google Talk through Google's e-mail service, called Gmail. But here's the good news: You no longer need to be hip to get Gmail, which used to be invitation-only. In fact, analysts said, Google's plan is to drive more widespread Gmail adoption. Beginning today, you can sign up via a text message to www.gmail.com from a mobile phone, give your phone number and get a code that allows you to create an account. Google makes money from advertising that runs inside Gmail accounts.

Google Talk's ""messaging'' allows you to write in a box that pops up from Gmail. It will rely partly on an open protocol called XMPP, which allows people to connect even from other services such as iChat, Gaim and Cerulean Studios' Trillian, according to Harik. Still, people using those services will have to sign-on to Google's Gmail to communicate within the system.

Also today, Google will announce that customers of service provider Earthlink will become part of the network that is compatible with Google Talk.

As for the ""chatting'' part of the service, Google is using a proprietary protocol. But it plans shortly to change to an open platform, called SIP, so outside developers can contribute applications.

"They've put together the pieces to be a very powerful portal player," said analyst Allen Weiner, of Gartner. The open platform distinguishes Google's services from those offered by AOL, MSN and Yahoo, which can't talk with each other, except for when they are used by theirr corporate clients. Google also claims that it offers superior voice quality, ease of connection and seamless integration with email.

However, it is the newcomer in a full field. An AOL spokesman said chat and messaging services are best when other people use them, and that AOL has a strong lead. AOL's messaging program has about 41.6 million U.S. users, followed by Yahoo Messenger with 19.1 million and MSN Messenger with 14.1 million, according to ComScore Media Metrix's July report.

The reviews are mixed. Some, including analyst Greg Sterling of the Kelsey Group, said they liked Google Talk. "It's significant for Google because it's been a gap in their offering," he said. "As they increasingly take on the mantle of a portal, it's a natural for them."

However, some analysts said that usual "wow" factor built into most of Google's new offerings is absent from Google Talk at least -- so far. Danny Sullivan, editor of Search Engine Watch, said the services offered by competitors are already very good. "They say voice quality is really good,'' he said. "But Yahoo messenger seemed to work as well for me."

He and others said the real significance for Google is getting its feet deep in the water in an area it has been relatively absent. The launch comes two days after Google unveiled another free program that aggregates information on a computer desktop, the Google sidebar. It also comes less than a week after the company announced plans to raise $4 billion in a secondary stock offering.

Google's Harik said the company hopes to launch a voice service that will allow people to call others at their regular phones, but that engineers haven't figured out how to merge it with Google's current project. Yahoo has bought a company called Dialpad which has such a voice service, but it hasn't been integrated yet within Yahoo's messenger service.

Update: Search Engine Watch's Danny Sullivan has a good review, including a box showing the various messaging and voice features now offered Google, MSN, Yahoo and AOL. Minor quibble: It says AOL and Yahoo have a VoIP capability to call regular phones (not just other PCs). Our understanding, from chatting with AOL and others, is that this feature aren't yet integrated yet into their instant messaging platforms.

Update II: Check out this more considered review (free subscription) of Google Talk by our colleague Mike Langberg. Unlike us, he is not crazed by just getting the news out, and takes his time and describes how it actually works.


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Comments

Outside the US you can't get a GMail account other than by being invited.

Markus on August 24, 2005 7:20 AM
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Can get a GMail invite here

http://labnol.blogspot.com/2005/02/get-gmail-accounts-without-invite.html

bill clarke on August 24, 2005 7:56 AM
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bill: this sevice was discontinued nearly three months ago, google didn't like it too much.

Yuri Ammosov on August 24, 2005 8:17 AM
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Regarding international access via mobile phone, this is what a Google spokeswoman just told us:

"The Gmail SMS sign-up feature currently works for users with mobile phones in the U.S. only. We're continually exploring opportunities to make the service more widely available worldwide."

Matt Marshall on August 24, 2005 8:40 AM
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It's clear to me that Google Talk was rushed severely. This thing is like a beta. What were they thinking? It has no features, the IM interface sucks.. everything is "coming soon". They rushed this thing and blew it.

sherwin on August 24, 2005 8:56 AM
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Well, it looks like a beta because it *is* a beta...

Ed on August 24, 2005 9:06 AM
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I am surprised that people are saying the Google Talk product is cool!! It is definitely weaker than Skype or Yahoo IM for that matter.

Google has built its loyalty based on the ability to "wow" consumers. I dont see any single feature in this product that "wows" me. I am a little shocked as to Google's innovation path or shall we just say copy Yahoo path?

Anil on August 24, 2005 12:07 PM
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you know what i mean.. the kind of beta you don't release to anyone but a few testers.

this software looks like it was created by a college kid.. it really doesn't do anything special. If this was made by anyone else it wouldn't be downloaded.

Sherwin on August 24, 2005 12:19 PM
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The only way to induce a "wow" from Mac users would have been to release an IM client with widget for Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger!

John Hood on August 24, 2005 2:59 PM
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"It's clear to me that Google Talk was rushed severely."

Huh? Based on whose timetable? Google puts something out there when they want to put something out there, no one forced them to do anything. Maybe they want people to play with it and build onto it. Maybe they are trying something new out. Maybe they have a long-term plan for the product that (shudder) you aren't privy to. It's beta for chrissakes. If you don't like it, don't use it...but don't sit there and pretend you've got some sort of sixth-sense or special insight into Google's plans.

Chris on August 24, 2005 3:53 PM
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Google talk - only for rich people? What about Win 95-98 users?
Any version of yahoo messenger runs on Windows 98!

slobodan dejan on August 25, 2005 4:24 PM
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My summary on Google Talk. Lots of interesting links.
http://divedi.blogspot.com/2005/08/search-wars-google-talk.html

Dimitar Vesselinov on August 27, 2005 9:51 AM
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Google talk is the beginning of real open standard . I am so surprised that such a huge company is willing to sacrifice some of the profit which it will gain by keeping it closed to its users only . I think Google is making the new "wow" by releasing the next version that enables SIP calling , and this means that anyone with sip enabled service can connect to google talk . They are even trying to reach out to other SIP based companies like "the gizmo project" to acheive such a goal. This is the first step to make other Instant messageing and voip service providers to connect together .Imagine MSN , Yahoo , Aol, and other users having the ability to talk together. Google talk is the first to sacrifice and hopefully others will follow .

Fady Abdallah on September 5, 2005 2:04 PM
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hi


i just want to install the Gmail Talk on my system which has windows 98 OS, the setup download from the site can be installed on higher version O S


Deepak Galagali

deepak galgali on September 17, 2005 12:03 AM
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I was nervous/excited before GoogleTalk was launched.
As a keen YM - along with AIM, ICQ, Skype, MSN, and many others - user I figured Google would rock the boat.

It didn't.
It's incredibly disappointing, and as far as the IM world goes, a NON-EVENT. :-(

Eagle_Kiwi (New Zealand) on October 12, 2005 7:01 AM
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Hey...google shud come up with a soluthion 4 Win 98 users too.....sadly im one among them.:-(.and i want to use google talk on my comp...

Gunz on October 15, 2005 1:07 PM
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Yah ,

Google Talks disadvantage is, doesn't work on Win98...
Hey Google Guys Provide the solution as Yahoo runs on Win98...

shankar on October 21, 2005 2:40 AM
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hiii,it will be great help if google talk can be run in win 98 also,as it runs only in xp or 2000.

jeevan on October 23, 2005 12:27 PM
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I think that Google Talk is great as a simple talk program that you can use to talk with your friends to. I normally use MSN Messenger, but because my internet connection is behind a router, the program keeps on logging me in and out over and over again. It is really annoying. Google talk i have had no problems with. It is stable.

Sure, MSN Messenger has features, but how about making the thing work in the first place?! without ADVERTS!

Alex on October 26, 2005 11:53 AM
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http://www.google.com/support/talk/bin/answer.py?answer=24073
for windows 98 users :)

karthik on October 30, 2005 3:09 AM
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hi,
please make google-talk available for win 98

Vallish Kumar on December 9, 2005 5:54 AM
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yahoo mesenger does not work on windows 98 please solv this roblem

mayank on December 10, 2005 10:12 PM
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Hi, I live in two different towns during the week and on one computer I use Google Talk incessantly but on the other I'm only equiped with Windows 98. Does this strike anyone else as a tragedy?

Erika on December 14, 2005 3:42 PM
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A WindowsMobile 5 Client with voice chat would be "wow".

Walter on February 10, 2006 10:30 PM
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HOW DO YOU SIGN UP?

ME on June 8, 2006 3:34 PM
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Yes it is a tragedy that people are still on windows 98. Those people are holding everyone else back. We are trying to reach back to them all the time, and in doing so we have to author everything twice. How annoying.

It is good that google hasn't made it compliant to 98ers. Its time to upgrade. (heck if you have windows xp on a machiene that came out about the same time, you should upgrade to be vista compliant.) (I just bought a top line graphics card, and its already becoming obsolete. it doesn't have the new monitor hook up for high definition...)

So if I am obsolete, than 98ers are extinct. There is no good reason to author for the 98ers any longer.

nate on July 5, 2006 6:34 PM
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