Google just released their long-rumored Instant Messenger client and service: succinctly named Google Talk. If you download the client (currently only available for Windows), you’ll find a clean-looking interface with the absolutely necessary IM features, but not too many of the bells and whistles. You will also find that this IM client prominently features the ability to really ‘talk’ using VoIP. Google does have plans to release clients for the Mac and Linux platforms, but until then you can use other clients on those platforms that support the Jabber/XMPP protocols. This is true on Windows as well. There are plans to support SIP as well.
Isn’t Google competing heads-up with other VoIP services? Yes and No, IMHO. Google states that they are interested in consumers having server choice as well as client choice by conforming to standards and federating their services with other service providers (such as Earthlink and Sipphone). So, when people have a choice like this, hopping around from one service to another becomes quite easy and it’s not as if they are offering a completely different product.
Got a Gmail account? Well then you can go ahead and log into the Google Talk service as well. If you don’t, but live in the US, you can sign up if you have an SMS-enabled cell phone account.