What is ICQ? How does it differ from AOL Instant Messenger?
ICQ (an abbreviation for I Seek You) is a way you can "chat" with another person via the Internet, similar to a telephone conversation. Instead of using your voice, you type a message to another ICQ user and they can instantly type a response. America Online's Instant Messenger provides the same function and is free (unlike full service AOL). ICQ also allows you to send e-mail type messages to other ICQ users while AOL's Instant Messenger does not.
Personally, I prefer AOL's Instant Messenger for a number of reasons. There are more people using AOL. While ICQ has a large number of members, AOL's Instant Messenger also allows you to talk to other users on AOL's full service as well as Instant Messenger users. ICQ's support of its Macintosh users is far behind support for the Windows 95/98 users. Finally, AOL allows users to create a name for their account while ICQ requires you to remember a number -- a bit annoying, in my opinion, not to have a real name.
Unfortunately, at this time, AOL users cannot chat with ICQ users. However since ICQ is now owned by America Online, it's likely the two services will talk with each other in the near future.
Both programs are free and can be downloaded from their Web sites (www.icq.com and www.aol.com).
-- David Greenbaum is director of Geeks on Wheels. You can send him questions at dsg@Geek911.com or at Geeks on Wheels, 1-888-Geek-911, toll-free nationwide.