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Google made a late entry into the instant messaging market on Tuesday with the launch of Google Talk, an IM service that allows users to place free phone calls over a net connection to other people signed into the service. Google Talk, released as a beta, requires a Gmail username and password. It works with Jabber-compatible Instant Messaging client (such as Apple's iChat, Trillian or GAIM). Although that represents a stand towards interoperability in practical terms it doesn't mean that much since none of the big three IM clients (MSN, Yahoo! and AOL) support the feature.

Early reaction to the service has been lukewarm. Search Engine Watch says it lacks the "wow" factor that came when Google entered other mature markets such as webmail and maps with Gmail and Google Maps respectively. "Google Talk is missing any sort of search, doesn't save conversation histories, and requires a GMail account... it doesn't even have smileys," an underwhelmed reviewer at Techdirt notes. ®

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