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What is a good messenger for company networks? It should be a free, malware and adware free Windows (XP, Vista and 7) program with a simple user interface and small memory footprint. It can be based on an external server (like MSN or ICQ) but I am especially interested if there are solutions that do not need a server (such as a peer-to-peer program).

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Have you tried Skype? –  Joseph Weissman Aug 31 '11 at 18:09
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7 Answers

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Take a look at Bonjour, which works great for OSX, but there is a Windows implementation and the GPL client Pidgin supports it.

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On Linux, both Pidgin and Empathy support it via Avahi. –  grawity Aug 31 '11 at 16:17
    
Went for this option, just needs a small driver from Apple: support.apple.com/downloads/Bonjour_for_Windows and then works flawlessly in Pidgin! Thanks. Just a note: Bonjour on Pidgin does NOT support offline messages. They also can't be stored locally until the other peer goes online again. –  Felix Dombek Sep 2 '11 at 1:36
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I've been using Pidgin and it's really great, for my needs. At the workplace we use IRC and gmail/jabber for instant messaging.

Pidgin supports a ton of protocols. Scan down the list and figure out which one seems best for you to support and maintain.

I see Bonjour on the list, which is serverless, but I haven't used it.

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Miranda IM is a multi-protocol instant messaging client for Windows. Very light on system resources and extremely fast, Miranda IM requires no installation and can be made to fit on a single floppy disk or USB drive.

Supported protocols

AIM (AOL Instant Messenger)
Facebook  
Gadu-Gadu
IAX (Inter-Asterisk Exchange)
ICQ
IRC (Internet Relay Chat)
Jabber
MSN
Netsend
Tlen
Yahoo
And more...
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IRC is always a good fallback, channels can be created by department, makes for easy communications with groups, or for those that have to communicate with multiple groups. It does require a server, and depending on what you go with, may require a bit of upfront configuration, but it is a good solid communications tool (and it has been for decades). It is very efficient on both network bandwidth and system resources.

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Assuming you already have Java installed, then try Mercury. It supports a number of protocols including MSN and XMPP. As a Java program you have added protection from the sandbox and it recognizes Mercury-to-Mercury communications in which case you can have them encrypted.

That is the one I use but I have also used eBuddy which is a webclient MSN. Probably not ideal for a workplace but it does fit the simple and easy part of the request.

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We used Spark at a previous employer and it seemed to work well.

Another possibility is BitWise. It is geared to organizations and companies and emphasizes security. It is hosted, so I don't think a dedicated server is required.

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+1 for suggesting two good-looking alternatives that I've never heard of. :) –  Felix Dombek Sep 2 '11 at 1:31
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We use Skype, because it support group messaging and work in any network. Of course it's free, P2P and crossplatform. Support offline messaging, file sharing and voice chat (when you need it). But it use around 150MB of RAM.

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