Trillian 5 beta for Windows is now here, looking good

The beta update to Trillian 5 is now here, giving Windows computer users a better-looking, faster-acting, and more socially plugged-in all-in-one IM app.

We caught wind of a refresh to the Cerulean Studios' Trillian all-in-one IM app a month ago, and starting Monday, the refurbished Trillian 5 beta for Windows is open to all.

As promised, Trillian 5 beta (download) now integrates with LinkedIn and Foursquare social networking services (access this from the handy accounts ribbon on the buddy list), and it improves the behavior of Facebook and Twitter feeds. Foursquare users on Windows 7 computers will be able to check-in from Trillian 5 beta thanks to Windows 7's GPS support. In addition to reading feeds, you're able to set your status as well.

Using the social feeds wasn't as intuitive as we would have liked. You have to hover the cursor over the account listing and select the "pin" option from the context menu to get your feed to appear in the buddy list. You'll need to choose "share a message" to update your status.

We like being able to reorder the icons around the account ribbon on the top of the buddy list.

Trillian 5 sports a completely refashioned interface, from the buddy list to the chat windows, though some changes are subtle. You're now able to optionally disable toolbars to keep Trillian even lighter and leaner, and differentially resize separate areas of the buddy list. A "simple" view strips away avatars and friends' status updates to give you a condensed view of the buddy list. There's also a no-skin option for Windows Vista and Windows 7 users who choose the native glass border instead of either of the two of Trillian 5's skinning options (we vastly prefer Cobalt over Cordonata on Windows XP).

Though Trillian still took a fair amount of time to install, exiting and restarting the instant messaging client felt faster than previous builds, as promised. The company has also made efforts to streamline its registration process.

There is one more beta feature we'll all have to be patient to try out. Synchronizing chat history through your account so you can view it on any Trillian installation is one of the more-major features we anticipated. That one will appear in a subsequent beta build, along with a black theme, we're told.

Though we're saving our full judgment for the final release, we will say that this iteration is looking pretty good so far, minus a few usability quirks.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.