As widely predicted yesterday, Google Talk is out.
It does instant messaging and voice. Your login is your GMail account.
It is Windows-only, but since it supports Jabber/XMPP, you can connect using other software e.g. Mac iChat (IM only, no voice chat).
It will (unasked) put itself in Windows startup.
It will also (unasked) start cycling through your unread GMail in a window at the bottom of the screen.
It would be nice if people who put up windows talked to other apps. The GMail messages covered up some message from Microsoft Anti-Spy, I have no idea what it asked me.
You can't talk to people who don't have a GMail address, e.g. you can't talk to my regular Jabber account. If you put in a non-GMail user it says "Some of your friends need Gmail first. The person you have invited doesn't have a Gmail address.... You have enough invitations available (50 left), so we'll send your friends an invitation to open a Gmail account and to download Google Talk." It does let you cancel out before it does this.
Presumably one could now start crawling the net for @gmail.com addresses and start sending spam IMs (spim).
It puts itself in the Windows quickclick bar or whatever it's called. If you close it, it will not exit, it will just minimize there. You have to pull up a menu from the little icon and exit it that way.
I have to say, this latest from Google baffles me. It doesn't seem to build on their previous acquistion of Hello (an IM client that is designed for photo sharing that they got as part of Picasa). It doesn't talk outside of Jabber or GMail accounts. It does voice, but so does the much-hyped Skype (as well as the apparently forgotten Net2Phone, which is what I have used).
If you dig into their developer documentation, you can get an idea of what they have planned
Do you plan to support other real-time communication protocols?
Google Talk supports XMPP with the beta release. We plan to support SIP in a future release. Additionally, we will evaluate other protocols as appropriate, to continue to deliver on our commitment to open communications.
Google Talk supports a custom XMPP-based signaling protocol and peer-to-peer communication mechanism. We will fully document this protocol. In the near future, we plan to support SIP signaling.
What is "service choice" and how does Google Talk enable it?
Service choice is something you have with email and, for the most part, with your regular phone service today. This means that regardless of whom you choose as your email service provider (Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, your school or ISP, etc), you can email anyone who is using another service provider. The same applies to phone service. You can call someone even if they do not use the same phone company as you do. This allows you to choose your service provider based on other more important factors, such as features, quality of service, and price, while still being able to talk to anyone you want.
Unfortunately, the same is not true with most popular IM and VOIP networks today. If the people you want to talk to are all on different IM/VOIP services, you need to sign up for an account on each service and connect to each service to talk to them.
We plan to partner with other willing service providers to enable federation of our services. This means that a user on one service can communicate with users on another service without needing to sign up for, or sign in with, each service.
As a first step towards fulfilling our commitment to federation, we will federate with EarthLink and Sipphone, service providers who share our belief in enabling user choice and open communications.
We do not have details at this time on when federation will be enabled. But we are working closely with Earthlink and Sipphone to federate EarthLink's Vling service and Sipphone's Gizmo Project with the Google Talk service as quickly as possible, while offering the best possible user experience.