IRC users should check out the latest release of mIRC, the shareware Internet Relay Chat client. We found mIRC 7.25 to be a capable, full-featured chat tool the last time we tried it. Since then, mIRC's developers have made a number of improvements (over 60, in fact), including improved support for running the program in portable mode on more than one PC using a file-hosting service. A few bugs have been fixed; for instance, the editbox no longer beeps endlessly when the maximum message length is reached. The SSL warning dialog has been improved, too, as has the Incremental Search feature. And you can change the Treebar's fonts from the context menu. The full-featured mIRC 7.25 is free to try for 30 days and costs $20. We ran it as a clean installation in 64-bit Windows 7.
MIRC's installation wizard offers lots of options, including automatic updates, backups, and the option to run the program as a portable application from a USB drive. You can register mIRC immediately, but the 30-day trial omits no options or features, including full access to IRC's network. The days of clunky, primitive chat apps are long gone. A clean interface, left-hand sidebar, tile or cascade window options, and other touches give mIRC a modern look and make it an easy starter for anyone who's set up a chat client before. We entered a screen name and alternative but were able to get our first choice. We clicked Continue, not Connect: first we wanted a look at mIRC's options. Opening the mIRC Options dialog showed a tree view with many configuration choices, including the improved Sounds options.
Accessing IRC via mIRC is easy. Press the Connect icon, and mIRC does the rest. It logged us on and presented a searchable (and optional) mIRC Favorites pop-up listing available channels in a huge range of topics, with Join, Add, Edit, and other commands. Most of mIRC 7.25's updates make themselves felt in the app's smooth, reliable performance. Of course, everything we liked about mIRC still applies to the new version. And the full-featured trial means no worries.