Windows Messenger is just one of the many free instant messaging programs out there. This section tells you where to get the others and how to use them.
Windows Messenger suffers from the same problem as its competitors: You can pretty much only use it to communicate with other people who use the same instant messenger program (Windows Messenger does also let you chat with folks who use MSN Messenger). To communicate with the broadest range of people, one option is to download multiple instant messengers. You can run several IM programs simultaneously without worrying about technical conflicts. These are the ones with the biggest audiences; the last one runs across all the messenger programs:
AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). Using AIM, you can communicate with America Online subscribers, as well as anyone who uses the standalone AOL Instant Messenger. There are more people who use AIM than any other instant messenger, and it works pretty much the same way as Windows Messenger. (AIM also lets you chat with any Apple-loving friends who use iChat.) Get AIM at http://www.aol.com.
Yahoo! Instant Messenger. This popular instant messenger, which works similarly to Windows Messenger, is run by Yahoo!. Get it at http://www.yahoo.com.
ICQ. This instant messenger is particularly popular internationally. It offers a wider range of features than other instant messengers, but tends to be more confusing to use (for tips, see Section 6.7.7