I have given up on Gaim. I just got fed up with its constant switchboard errors, telling me the message couldn't be sent, when it fact it was, or the other way around. Its interface is clunky, its not nice at all. I wanted an alternative, a client that wouldn't fail when sending simple text messages, that wouldn't disconnect or close whenever he decided to.
I thought of trying Kopete, but I have never fancied its looks and ugly interface. The other, less-know clients are just one, or both of two things: worse functionality-wise than Gaim or Kopete, or just plain ugly.
I want a nice interface people, one I can look at without wishing for Microsoft's Live MSN Messenger. Yes, you hard me. Microsoft's product is free, it doesn't have as much bugs or an ugly interface. Yes, it has ads, but if you're smart enough you should have figured by now that a simple patch will remove them and allow you to customize it to your liking. You can even play a game of sudoku or minesweeper with your mates while you chat.
So, back to the IM client question: what to use? Well, at school I used a web messenger that could connect to various protocols (GTalk, Yahoo Messenger, MSN, etc.) called Meebo. So I thought I'd give it a chance because, well, no other client seemed to satisfy my needs.
I created an account so my settings and preferences wouldn't be lost every time I logged off. The moment you visit Meebo's website you just know its a quality product. Everything feels so polished, and it works as expected. Meebo allows you to connect to various instant messaging networks: Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger, AIM, and MSN. I just use MSN, mind you.
What's the advantage of using Meebo over, say, Gaim? Well, first of all I know all my settings and preferences will be the same no matter where I use it, bet a Windows computer, a Mac, or a Sun workstation. It will always look the same, and behave the same. It is consistent, that's something I appreciate. Also, it saves space on my desktop. Because everything goes on on one of my browser's tab it doesn't fill my desktop with a lot of windows, so its nice. If you want to have it on your desktop but you want to minimize your browser, you can. Just click on the "Pop out" button that every window has and it will spawn on your desktop as an independent window, you can even do that to your buddy list.
You want to use a custom display picture? Sure, just look at the left side of the Meebo page, click on that image, and select one of the preset pictures or select one from your computer. Easy as pie! Same goes for setting your nickname. Oh, and talking about nicknames, you can add nicknames to your contacts. In fact, the only critical feature Meebo lacks is file transfer, but you can always use gmail or yousendit. All in all, Meebo is a great web messenger and it looks good to boot! Meebo is good enough that I use it daily now, instead of the clunky Gaim client.