ICQ 2001b: The Little IM That Can

ICQ2001b In-depth, 1st of a series of Instant Messenger Reviews
The Little IM That Can
Gabriel H. Mercado

I. ICQ2001b Quick Facts
II. Intro
III. Improvements
1. Complete list of Improvements:
1.1. Favorite Improvements:
1.2. Other Improvements:
IV. Features
1. Communication
1.1. Unified Messaging Center
1.2. Answering Service
1.4. Phone “Follow Me”
1.5. ICQ’s Email Options
1.5.1. ICQ’s Email Client
1.5.2. ICQ’s Free Email
1.5.3. ICQ’s Integration with Microsoft Outlook 2k
1.5.4. Emailexpress or ICQPager
2. Directories
2.1. ICQ “White Pages”
2.2. Search The Web
3. Communities
3.1. ICQ Topics Directory Bar
3.2. Shared Files (NEW FEATURE)
4. Others
4.1. Webfront (NEW FEATURE)
4.2. ICQ Freeinfo & Newsletter
4.3. Translator & Skins
V. Conclusion
VII. Interview

I. ICQ 2001b Quick Facts:
Latest Version: 2001b (Beta) v5.18 Build #3659 Released 11/28/01.
Availability: Freeware
Download Size: 4,212 kb.
Operating System: Win98/2k/ME/NT4/XP.
There are different ICQ versions for the Palm OSŪ, Pocket PC, Power Mac PPC, Mac 68K, Windows 3.1x/3.5x/CE/95 and Java
Claimed no. of users: 122,386,227
Download from: TUCOWS, ICQ FTP Site, ICQ HTTP
Uninstaller included?: Yes
Related Downloads: LingoWare, ICQ Plus, ICQ SurfBeta
Previous Versions: 2000b, 2000a, 99b, 99a

II. Intro:

If you’re new to the world of ICQ, it’s a safe bet you’re fairly new to the Internet as a whole. ICQ (“I Seek You”) was the first Instant Messenger and become such a monstrous hit that it quickly became the de facto standard of IMs. Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL IM versions adopted its small, easily minimized interface and quick access to chat, email, user information and other cool functions. ICQ also introduced the world to a new, pervasive “always connected” principle of communication only available via the internet, as well as a new concept of spreading the use of an application via compelling a user to become its advocate to other users, possibly coining the word “viral marketing” as well.

ICQ is however not without faults. Known to have been buggy and overweight, it’s many daily users have put up with upgrade difficulties, redundant and difficult to navigate commands and even some recent security concerns. After AOL’s buyout of Mirabilis Inc., the original developers a few years back, ICQ still strangely doesn’t interface with the AOL Instant Messenger. Finally inspite of its tons of features, the fact that it does not have webcam or videoconferencing support, considered an IM basic, boggles the mind.

But there’s no doubt about it, ICQ is the undisputed most popular Instant Messenger with a claimed 122+ million users. Of course they may count unused accounts or the ones with forgotten passwords (like my very first account years ago), but the number is substantial nonetheless. ICQ has been in the Instant Messenger game longer than anyone out there, which explains its large member base. But does being there longest and having the most features mean it’s the best?

III. Improvements:

Along with the many new features, there are basic improvements the new version has over the last version. I like the better 2-pane layout of the User Details, where one clicks the left pane to see the options on the right. There is also a much improved layout for Security and Privacy Permissions as you can see all of these in one place now.

ICQ reports better SMS coverage* and 2-way SMS messaging, as well as a better ability to deal with firewalls. But the best upgrade of them all has to be making your contact list server-based, allowing one the ability to access these even without being in front of their host computer. Personally this was the main reason why I had explored other IMs in the past, as I enjoyed working in Internet Cafes but didn’t like not having my contacts unavailable to me when I do. This also entails a large upgrade on ICQ’s part as well, as they would now have to store more data on their servers than they had previously with this upgrade. This single improvement alone is worth upgrading to ICQ2001b.

A smart way of making this version smaller than the last version but still have more features is to allow the user to pick and choose the add-ons they like, and leave out the ones they don’t. Even ICQ’s Help Files are optional downloads, which is a good idea as hardly everyone I know would rather ask someone else than refer to a program’s Help files. Besides, that’s what Instant Messengers are for!

1. Complete list of Improvements:

1.1. Favorite Improvements:
Contact List on Servers
Pick and choose add-ons
Share and Exchange Files
Security & Privacy Permissions in one place

1.2. Other Improvements:
Save/Load Contact List – lets you save your contact list on your PC instead of online.
Request Contacts – you can request all or partial list of contact from your friends.
Multilingual support
Spell Checker
Wide array of ICQ emotions and smileys
The option of sending each message by ICQ, SMS, email or all modes
Auto-firewall detection
Improved Whitepages
Find a Friend
Set your ICQ Email Signature – Places your ICQ UIN in your email signature (Outlook and Outlook Express only).

IV. Features

If we were to declare that the best IM is the one with the most features, then ICQ would definitely win hands down. Try saying it all in one breath: Translator, Skins, Communication Center, Answering Service, SMS Messaging, ICQPhone, Email, Phone “Follow Me”, ICQWhite Pages, ICQ Topics Directory Bar, plus a host of features within the features themselves. Here are explanations of each one:


1.1. Unified Messaging Center

ICQ can’t seem to decide whether to call this “My Communication Center” (as called by the application) or the “Unified Messaging Center” (as called by the webpage). Whatever it’s supposed to be called, this feature fires up your browser and leads you to a webpage on ICQ’s site that represents you via your ICQ UIN (User Identification Number) and showcases all the personal details you entered onto the application. Put simply, it’s a way for people on the web to get to know you and send you messages to your ICQ without having to be an ICQ user.

Here is a good example of features within features that I mentioned earlier. The Communication / Messaging Center page provides the person who wants to communicate with you 4 ways to do so via chat, “emailexpress”, ICQPager (more on these later), and via good ol’ email, provided you enter your email address into your ICQ details. An ICQ registered user who’s away from his computer and needs to get to you via ICQ can do so as well. Via the Center, he can send you a standard ICQ message or an SMS message via your phone as well.

* SIDENOTE: SMS via ICQ, available since ICQ2000b, as many SMS internet freeloaders know well by now, remains unavailable to Philippine users as cellphone companies Globe and Smart have banned ICQ SMS’s access to their subscribers. This is probably because we just love our SMS and, having found a free way to send using this, promptly abused it. This also negates one of ICQ2001b’s claimed improvements, which is a larger global scope of the SMS service. Oh well..

1.2. Answering Service

The Answering Service is what it says it is – nothing more than a way to leave custom or pre-made messages that people who try to send you messages while you are away will receive.


ICQPhone uses Net2Phone’s IP telephony technology, with full Net2Phone features and it’s accompanying hits and misses. The ICQPhone interface allows you 4 ways to connect, namely: PC to phone, PC to PC, Phone to PC and Phone to Phone.

PC to phone is a way of calling a person via his phone thru your computer. It promises cheaper rates than standard IDD rates. A quick check as of January 2002 reveals that calling from the Philippines to the US is pegged at an affordable US$.21 per minute, almost 50% cheaper than PLDT’s standard US$.40 per minute rate. A quick check reveals a US$.19 per minute rate from the US to Manila (US$.20 for the rest of the country and US$.28 for cellular calls). While the latter can vary from State to State, the former represents substantial savings. ICQphone’s rate from anywhere outside the US to the Phils. is set at US$.21 per minute.

In order to activate PC to phone however you will need to create an ICQphone account (actually a Net2Phone account), which you can replenish via credit card. This is obviously an extensive process although an interesting alternative for the constant overseas caller. Being based on Net2phone, watch out for Net2phone’s known pitfalls, which count dropped calls and difficulty getting around routers and certain router configurations. Unfortunately guessing which ISP (Internet Service Provider) is best to use for this service is a hit or miss affair, so if you plan to use this regularly be prepared to try out several providers and have a ready backup connection until you get the best reception.

PC to PC is far more straightforward and also free, although both parties will have to be ICQ users and have ICQ on their computers at the time. Because it’s free PC to PC using ICQPhone has become a popular way for ICQ users to get to know one another, and is easy enough for a novice to understand and use.

Phone to PC may sound strange but is really quite simple. Signing up for an ICQphone account will also give you your own ICQphone “phone number”, which can be reached the normal way using a phone. Unfortunately the rates are quite high, as Philippine rates are at a whopping US$1.50 per minute. However, the fact that the Philippines is mentioned among only 20 countries where this service is available may be an indication that there are those who use this regularly.

Finally Phone to Phone is nothing more than ICQ trying to sell you an international callcard that operates like most callcards you can buy in department stores. Using the card will allow the owner cheaper international call rates ICQ gets from buying in bulk. This is not really a “feature” but more of a value added product and is not related to the ICQ application at all other than it’s from the same company.

1.4. Phone “Follow-Me”

It’s possible to place several phone numbers in your ICQ details. Each one can be placed in different status settings so as to help your contacts decide on which phone number is best to call you on. Setting your phone status will also let other people know if you are available to receive a phone call or if you are busy.

1.5. ICQ’s Email Options

If you like getting confused, well this is the part where it gets fun. There are no less than 3 different ways that ICQ deals with email, and they all have ICQ’s now obvious penchant for doing things differently.

1.5.1. ICQ’s Email Client

First off, let’s look at ICQ’s POP3 email client. This is a semi-featured email client with a unique way of presenting email that I’ve never yet seen in any other. A very good feature I like is “Check Mail On Server” which checks the contents of email including a few lines of the content without downloading the whole email or attachments. This feature can download up to 99 lines of text within the email for you to look at and decide whether to discard or download. This may or may have not been it’s intention, but it’s also a good way to avoid downloading emails with questionable attachments that might be virii, spam, or attachments that are too large to deal with. Emails can be read, deleted or replied to while in the “Incoming Email Preview” window. However if you wish to download an email with an attachment you will still need to use your standard email client such as Outlook or Eudora.

I called this a “semi-featured” client primarily because of this, as well as the fact that there is no “bcc:” field available. This may give you the idea that ICQ isn’t really serious about using this as your everyday email client, except surprisingly it also allows you to attach a voice message as well – a feature not usually found in email clients.

A plus is it’s ability to check the contents of several email addresses at at time, plus a mind-boggling selection of choices with your email in conjunction with your list of ICQ users. You can assign a visual alert to activate when it detects that an email from a person in your contact list, check for a sender’s email address in ICQ’s extensive email directory list, send an invite to join ICQ to any one of the people who sent you an email, add an account to your email check and finally, read the mail.

1.5.2. ICQ Free Email

ICQ also offers free email ala Yahoo or Hotmail. I have to admit I found it very hard to believe that while signing up the choices I made for an email name were already taken, including my complete name with or without a hyphen or underscore. I tried nicknames, combinations of those nicknames and even some with a “ph” at the end just to try and make it more unique. Instead the program on their site insisted on suggesting often cryptic names of its own, and so after a frustrating number of unsuccessful attempts I was forced to agree to “gry730@icqmail.com” just to get tbe signup process over with and see what came next. I doubt if I’ll ever use THAT address after this test though as it’s so strange I’d probably forget it myself much less people whom I’d give it to.

After signing up I receive an email and a somewhat startling audio alert from my ICQ client that I had an incoming email from support@icq.com. After the customary welcome and thank yous it goes ahead to tell me that the ICQ client is customized to alert me when and if someone emails me at this address and I will be able to monitor the online/offline status of people in my ICQ list via it’s web-based address book. Other than that, it’s just an ordinary free web-based email. Good, I can move on.

1.5.3. Integration with Microsoft Outlook 2000

From ICQ2000b onwards, ICQ will automatically add an “ICQ Outlook Bar” on Microsoft Outlook 2000. It will add 9 new buttons which are usually dimmed and only lights up when it recognizes that an email from an ICQ user in your contact list is selected.

This feature is really cool as immediately upon receiving an email you can request a chat, send a file or a URL and forward a message to your ICQ pals all from Outlook. It will only work with Outlook 2000 however. Outlook Express and earlier versions are not supported.

Microsoft Outlook has always lent itself open to developers, which works both ways as it’s one of the reasons why it is such a virus-trap. So far this has been the only integration I’ve seen that has resulted in a positive outcome.

1.5.4. EmailExpress or ICQPager

EmailExpress and ICQPager is not to be confused with being different things. They are the same. Say what? Don’t tell me you’re not confused yet. As if ICQ doesn’t have so many features already, they like to give the same things two different names as well.

ICQ simply gave every ICQ user an email address starting with the configuration “UIN@pager.icq.com”. Hence, I can be emailed to the address “30450095@pager.icq.com” and it will show up on my ICQ. Simple, no? So why does ICQ name this feature two different things? Apparently, the only difference I can surmise is the fact that Emailexpress is the ordinary task of placing “30450095@pager.icq.com” in one’s email client, writing a message and pressing Send, while ICQPager is a textbox on a webpage where one enters one’s name, email address and the (up to 450 character) message. ICQPager is also touted as a tool people with homesites can use to faciliate communication between visitors to their site and themselves. They need simply to enter the html code onto their sites which will make the form for visitors to enter messages into and ICQ will take care of the rest.

There are two things of note here when I tested these particular features:

° Putting the ICQPager html code onto one’s website or even in the Communication Center where it’s placed by ICQ severely opens one up to spam. The “UIN@pager.icq.com” address, with obviously good intentions on ICQ’s part, is issued by ICQ without one knowing nor wanting. Hence, you literally have an email address sitting there in the open internet ready for spammers to abuse. The 450 character message limit and textbox-only way of entry saves one from unwanted attachments, but text-only spam is still spam and is just as irritating. What’s worse, anyone can lie about their name and email address when sending via a website textbox, making this not only a possible spammer tool but a way to send hoaxes and even threats as well.

° A second realization is that sending a message to “30450095@pager.icq.com” via the standard email client doesn’t seem to work. I tried sending the normal way and via Hotmail just to be sure, but my ICQ remained silent and only responded to the web-based entry type. What makes it extra strange is that there was no “bounced back” or “mail-returned” error reply that usually accompanies a non-working email service. The headers in such a message would have been useful to asses what went wrong, if any. As it is, the emails I sent are sitting in a server somewhere, not being processed.

I strongly suspect that this feature had brought on many complaints among ICQ users, and ICQ management decided to postpone this feature but still doesn’t really know what to do with it. Hence the lack of a “bounced-back” or “mail-returned” message when sending email to that address.


2.1. ICQ “White Pages”

ICQ2001b claims it has been improved the WhitePages from the previous versions. While it doesn’t say on their webpage exactly how, from looking at it it’s obvious more fields have been added that that can be used to look for people with. If you’re looking to contact someone who’s been on the net for a while and spends most of his time on it, then it’s a good bet that he has ICQ. ICQ being one of the first Instant Messengers and such a popular hit makes this an undoubtedly very good way to find old contacts.

You can use any one of up to 19 fields to look for your friend, including using School and Organization (e.g. military, fan clubs, religious, etc.) and corresponding keywords, as well as standard search methods using Name, Nickname, Department, Email, Occupation and such. The few tests I did looking for old friends produced 100% correct results, as did a random search for old schoolmates.

2.2. Search The Web

The “Search The Web” feature is an optional 34k add-on you will have to download from their website. Once installed a “Web Bar” will appear when activated, and will allow you to search for things on the web via Search Engines, Usenet Discussion Groups, News Articles and the like, with specific websites they use for each category. While searching the Software and Files category for example you will be asked by another field if you want to search top references like ZDnet, 32bit.com, Rocketdownload and the like.

When tested as a search engine “Search The Web” produced varying results. I still wouldn’t replace Google as a source for information compared to theirs. As expected however it comes into it’s own when searching in ICQ’s own database, especially if you’re looking for specific people or groups.


3.1. ICQ Topics Directory Bar

An optional add-on to the already chockfull of buttons to push on the ICQ client is the “Directory Bar”, which offers one-button access to ICQ’s Career, Games, Life & Love, Mobile, Movies & TV, Shopping, Sports, Tech & Net and Travel Channels. Each Channel will open a window (actually your browser sans navigation controls) featuring whatever they offer per that Channel.

This is a good way for ICQ to push it’s many entertainment features onto users. I don’t really understand why it’s under the “Communities” category though as there’s really nothing to help one join one here. Each Channel features the usual updates on the latest info, but the only thing that had any community aspect to it is a “Chat Now” feature where you can speak with other like-minded users of that Channel.

Others may decide the Directory Bar is ICQ trying to do too much, but I think it’s a good way to push content. Although if I could suggest something it’d be better if one could select the specific info per Channel they prefer ala Yahoo’s “MyYahoo”. The Sports Channel, for example, showcases headlines which include Winter Olympic updates. I don’t much care much for that but would really appreciate NBA and Tennis news which unfortunately ICQ offers no way for me to configure.

3.2. Shared Files (NEW FEATURE)

The Shared Files feature is a new, though somewhat scary feature ICQ. On paper it’s very impressive as it basically lends a folder in your PC out for other people on the net to select files from and vice-versa. Probably inspired by popular file-sharing applications such as Napster, Shared Files is a great way to trade and exchange MP3s or graphic files with other people, an activity proven by College students and music lovers all over to be one of the more popular uses of the internet.

However, sharing a directory on your PC is a hacker’s or virus-maker’s dream come true. It provides backdoor entry into a PC, further helped along by ICQ2001b’s improved ability to skip firewalls which were put there to prevent such activities from happening in the first place. ICQ provides the necessary warnings before, during and after installation of this feature. If you know what you’re doing, ICQ becomes not only a communication tool but also a fun file-sharing machine. However if you’re not, avoid installing this feature at all costs. No matter how many statements claiming otherwise, the words “sharing” and “directory” put in one sentence should always rings alarm bells in your head.


4.1. Webfront (NEW FEATURE)

The alarm bells continue to peal loud and strong as we move on the Webfront, another new feature that’s similar to Shared Files in that it allows access to areas of your PC. Webfront lets you make a webpage and host it on your PC. Again a very cool idea as the newbie-friendly and easy to use basic webdesign tools and local hosting features lets you make quick homepages with pictures and downloads galore plus skip having to learn confusing hosting procedures.

But again the idea of letting others roam into a section of your PC, no matter how small and protected you make it, is still a risk you must enter with eyes wide open. Another consideration is the kind of connection you are using. Using dial-up for this feature will defeat the purpose of a webpage as the connection would be far too slow to download anything. The solution would therefore be a permanent connection, which brings a further security risk in that you will then have a static IP address. ICQ is kind enough to remind you (twice) that your IP address will be shown to the world and you better be ready for it.

This can easily lead to a long-winded discussion about security and hackers, but let me just put it to you this way: if you do not know what could possibly happen if someone knows your IP address, don’t use it.

4.2. ICQ Free Info & Newsletter

ICQ Free Info when pressed simply launches your browser into http://icq.com/freeinfo, a site offering pretty much all sorts of sponsor supported information about Entertainment / Hobbies, Shopping, Health / Leisure, Internet / Computers, Finance / Business, Communications and their varied respective subcategories. There really is no such thing as anything free in this world, and the same rule applies here. You will need to enter your name, email, age and other data before getting the “Free Info” but ICQ makes you read 3 paragraphs of fine print disclaiming any and all responsibility before you do so. In so doing however, they also reveal that you should expect to get spammed. This is a marketing add-on more than anything, an obvious trap to get one’s info if I ever saw one. I would suggest avoiding this as much as possible.

According to their site ICQ’s weekly Newsletter’s last issue was back in May 24, 2001 and stopped since. This obviously should have been removed from ICQ2001b.

4.3. Translator, Plus and SurfBeta

Although unavailable as an option on ICQ itself I bundled Plus and Surfbeta along with Translator as they are both the most popular 3rd party add-ons not developed by ICQ themselves.

Pressing the “Translation” feature allows you to reconfigure it’s default English interface into 28 popular languages by using an add-on called “Lingoware” from Lingocom, a 1.5 mb. shareware download for different popular applications including ICQ 2001b. Since this was a review of ICQ itself I felt there wasn’t any need to see if this would work. Besides, there wasn’t any Tagalog.

Bored with ICQ’s look? “ICQPlus” are another and by far the most popular iCQ add-on that allows you to change the look of your ICQ to match your tastes. There are several hundred freeware or shareware “Skins” to choose from all downloadable from the internet, with themes ranging from anime, boybands, movie or tv themes and popular holidays like Christmas or Halloween. Would you happen to be a Britney fan, perhaps? Or a Trekkie that just can’t have enough Star Trek stuff? Then ICQ will surely be the IM for you.

Finally ICQ borrows an idea from Odigo, another popular Instant Messenger that popularized the ability to chat and send messages to other ICQ users who happen to be surfing a particular webpage you’re looking at as well. For me, this helps hardcore “chatters” who are looking for people to meet via Instant Messengers and are friendly and daring enough to talk with strangers on the ‘net – finally one can “approach” a nicelooking, err.., nick and say “So, what’s a nice girl/guy like you doing in a site like this?”, instead of the staid, old “ASL?” (age, sex, location?).

V. Related Links:

Complete List of Updates: http://www.icq.com/download/updates.html
Supported Plugins: http://www.icq.com/products/plugins.html

VII. Conclusion

ICQ with 2000b and 2001b versions reveal a new trend, of becoming information and entertainment providers as well as Instant Messengers. This may or may not work to popularize it, but it’s there anyway, making an already large install larger still.

Primarily though, ICQ was lucky enough to have had “first-mover advantage”, one of sundry hi-tech jargon popularized during the internet boom a year back. This resulted in a rush of member sign-ups to a service that wasn’t always up to par. Who cared if the early ICQ versions often crashed and were memory hogs? Since their friends were on ICQ, hence they had to have ICQ as well, whatever the cost. It’s this compelling reason which brought them to use it and continues to be the main reason today. I will always be an ICQ user, mainly because all my friends are and I’ve been known to be one by them as well. In that regard it can be concluded that ICQ’s got a solid lock on it’s existing users.

But what about the newbie? Dotcom crash or not, there is no doubt that more and more people are getting hooked up to the ‘net everyday. Would these people appreciate ICQ compared to the competition?

I would say that the dyed-in-the-wool techie would love ICQ. ICQ has such a dizzying array of features and can do so many things is so many ways it can be fascinating to experiment with. The non-techie user, however, can easily get confused and intimidated. Even at “Simple Mode” ICQ has more buttons to push than a toy robot. And don’t even think about support. ICQ’s webpage has been noted by many as one of the most confusing around.

If ICQ puts a rein on their overzealous developers and concentrates on one thing, ICQ would be a much better IM than it is now. As of now it’s “The Little IM That Can”, an application that wants to do everything. The problem with trying to do too many things at the same time is things get really confused really fast, resulting in a jack-of-all-trades application that doesn’t really do anything specifically well (and even while trying to be everything, it’s perplexing why it doesn’t have webcam and videoconferencing support).

Right now there is no obligation to shift to a new IM, but sooner or later the fact that all my friends are using it may not be a good enough reason to continue doing so. It only takes one of us to decide to change, and the rest will follow.

Next month: Yahoo Instant Messenger

VII. Interview with an everyday ICQ user
1. Full Name:
Mike Wright

2. Occupation:

3. Age:
99 (does it matter online?)

4. Location:
Quezon City

5. How often are you online?:
99% of the time, or 361.35 days per year.

6. How often are you online while using your IM?
When i’m online, i always turn on my instant messengers.

7. What Instant Messenger are you using and for how long?
I’ve been using ICQ for about four years now, and Yahoo Messenger for about a year now.

8. Have you tried other IMs? Which ones? Yes. Odigo and MSN.

9. Why did you choose your IM?
I really didn’t quite choose it. In one of my former jobs, ICQ was being used as a corporate communications tool.

10. What version of your IM are you using?
For ICQ, i’m using (ehem) 2000b Beta v.4.60. There are newer versions around, but i feel that this version answers my basic needs- so no need to upgrade.

11. What do you think are it’s strengths?
ICQ was already feature-packed before any of the newer messengers came out, so I and a lot of people quickly relied on it.

12. What do you wish it could improve?
I wish that it doesn’t hog that much memory.

13. Are you behind a firewall? Yes / No

14. If you are does your IM work well even if there’s a firewall or are there any noticeable differences?

I think it really depends on the network administrator. I have had no problems.

15. Have you ever clicked the advertisements? Yes / No /
—Sometimes, yes.

16. Have you ever emailed for support? If yes, what was your experience?
I have e-mailed ICQ about getting the password for my very first UIN, but to no avail. It’s kind of cute to use a five-digit UIN, although that would give away too much of your age on the net.

(*NOTE* Early ICQ users were issued shorter UINs (user identification number), while signing up for ICQ today will give you a 9 digit UIN. Therefore a way of determining how long one’s been on the net is by checking UIN length.) – GARY

17. Do you use it primarily for business or leisure?
Hmm. Difficult to say. I conduct a lot of business and work using ICQ and just plain communicate with friends using it.

18. Which one of these IM features have you used and how often?
Filesharing – i’ve used it once to get the Ep.1 trailer. this feature rocks.
SMS messaging – this is also great, tho’ they’ve put a limit on it.
Gaming – sometimes. i forgot the game, it’s this boggle-like game. but not much, not anymore. YM’s karate thing is cute tho’.
Chat: very important, especially when collaborating remotely on a project or if you have to gossip.