Power Downloader loves to chat with his friends, but he's got a problem. Kitty Kilobyte uses Yahoo Instant Messenger, and Candace Clicks loves Google Chat. Even his grandfather, the venerable Robert Baud, gets online to chat sometimes--but he uses AOL IM. Power Downloader knows it's a pain to use three different chat programs simultaneously, which is why he uses the multiprotocol chatware client Pidgin.

Pidgin's Buddy List.

Pidgin is open source and free, but Power Downloader knows that doesn't mean it can't get the job done. Besides Google, Yahoo, and AOL chat protocols, Pidgin also supports MSN, ICQ, MySpaceIM, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu, and more. Being able to chat to different people on different systems, all from the same chat window that keeps the multiple conversations separate, really makes Power Downloader's day.

There's a lot for Power Downloader to like in Pidgin. It's easy to set up, sure, but he loves the plug-ins. Being able to customize everything from smileys to fonts and colors, from multiperson chat behavior to Buddy Pounces, make Power Downloader feel like he has control over the program--not the other way around. Pidgin does a lot of basics right for Power Downloader, things like logging and time-stamping, and a Help menu that's been improved in recent versions. Best of all, Power Downloader appreciates that while he works hard to track down cyber-criminals, he doesn't have to work hard to chat with his sources.