Give Digsby another chance

Digsby's upgrade appears to have fixed most, if not all, of the resource-hogging problems it once had. Check out what's new with this Web 2.0-ready multiprotocol chat app.

The first iteration of multiprotocol chat-client Digsby that circulated earlier this year made a splash, but fell short of its potential. Although it incorporated e-mail and social-networking notifications with its instant-messaging services, it was a massive resource pig. Even users with top-of-the-line computers found the drag it caused not to be worth the convenience of having all communications wrapped up in a pretty bow.

Digsby's easy-to-use and comprehensive chat-log window. (Credit: Digsby)

The latest version, released last week, is a huge step forward in the resources department. In the changelog for this release, Build 32 r17926, the publisher directly addresses the RAM hogging. ''We optimized from the ground up and fixed memory leaks to lower RAM usage by almost 75 percent. This has been the number one complaint since our launch and we are proud to introduce this massive improvement.''

I don't have performance numbers from the earlier beta that I looked at, but it's apparent that many, if not all, of the performance issues have been improved. The program no longer hangs randomly and it didn't crash on me all weekend.

As the change-log states, many of the changes are back-end issues that the average user will never see. Nor should you: when you do notice this stuff, it's a sign that something's gone wrong.

If you're not familiar with what else Digsby can do, it basically rolls your instant messaging, e-mail notifications, and social networking into one interface. The range of features is impressive, going beyond basic chat protocol and Web mail and incorporating IMAP and POP3 support for e-mail, a wide variety of skins and other interface configuration options, and support for RSS feeds from your social network sites.

The only other major change in this new version is the inclusion of the LinkedIn social network, but even without it this iteration of Digsby makes it a compelling download. The program is not perfect, of course. Users must still opt out of the ''Google Powered Digsby Search'' and two other search reconfigurations that the installation will make. I would prefer it if you could opt in, since forcing your browser to filter its Google, Amazon, and eBay searches through Digsby is a fairly significant change.

As long as you don't blindly hit OK for every option that Digsby offers, this version is a worthy upgrade and definitely worth considering as an A-level multiprotocol chat app for Windows. The Mac and Linux version are still apparently in development.