Presence enables users to see the availability of their contacts -- not only whether they are online or offline, but also whether they have indicated their status is free or busy. As networks, programming languages and protocols developed, bulletin board systems emerged in the s, some of which even included chat features. IM uses a shared software client between or among two or more people using personal computers, iPhones or other devices. For IM'ing to work as intended, both users must be online at the same time, although nearly all instant messaging platforms now allow asynchronous interactions between online and offline users. Email, on the other hand, usually reflects a longer-form, letter-writing style. Another important shift in IM has been how it's accessed and delivered. Features of instant messaging The exchange of text has long been the chief function of instant messaging, but it is now one feature of many.
As networks, programming languages and protocols developed, bulletin board systems emerged in the s, some of which even included chat features. An instant message IM is a real-time, text-based communication similar to chat. The user can also be notified visually by flashing the IM window or its taskbar icon when a message has arrived. Many IM clients also notify the user audibly with a distinctive sound, such as a chime or chirp. There have been many attempts to create a common communication language protocol for the top IM service providers but most have failed, so each IM provider continues with its own proprietary language protocol. Unified communications technology basics Share this item with your network: This has enabled the rise of multi-platform instant messengers, such as Pidgin and Trillian. Presence enables users to see the availability of their contacts -- not only whether they are online or offline, but also whether they have indicated their status is free or busy. Or, depending on the user's settings, a window could indicate an IM has arrived along with a prompt to accept or reject it. In these cases, IM is much like email; in fact, the message may even be sent to the recipient's email address. IM also tends to be session-based, having a start and an end. In addition, the intended recipient must be willing to accept instant messages, as it is possible to configure the IM client to reject certain users. Email, on the other hand, usually reflects a longer-form, letter-writing style. Some clients also enable users to set an "away message" providing more detail about their limited or lack of availability. By , running multiple software clients was no longer necessary for instant messaging. Numerous clients now support the escalation from IM to other modes of communication, such as group chat, voice calls or video conferencing. Protocols were being developed allowing Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol servers to act as gateways for multiprotocol clients. As a result, many IM networks cannot communicate with each other, which has caused the IM service providers to lose a significant amount of business. There are many IM services available today, many of which are attached to social networking sites. Instant messaging differs from email in the immediacy of the message exchange. Internet slang, text speak and shorthand emotional expressions are common over IM. However, online chat allows communication in a multiuser environment among users that are usually anonymous. Because IM is intended to mimic in-person conversations, individual messages are often brief. When an IM is received, it alerts the recipient with a window containing the incoming message. Once the intended recipient has been identified and selected, the sender opens an IM window to begin the session. How instant messaging works Generally, IM users must know each other's username or screen name to initiate an IM session or to add them to their contact list or buddy list.
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