The new Yahoo! Messenger is out. The biggest change is its ability to load user created plug-ins. Everything besides the base functionality is a plug-in and users can create their own. I can see this really expanding the power of Y!M, but can it overcome established IM clients which offers many of the same things? Sometimes, I feel that the feature war is one the Cold War where eventually people forget the purpose and just ends up doing stuff for the sake of keeping busy and the status quo.
That's why I like Google Talk. It's not jumping into the feature war, but going after the simple but effective philosophy that has worked for UNIX for so long. I also like Trillian which allows me to talk to multiple IM providers (Yahoo, AIM, MSN), has a nicer interface then most "official" clients, and just has the features I want to use. In the long run, I feel that this is the winning strategy.
I think we can learn from the success of Trillian and to an extent Google Talk (not enough mass adoption to be called a success yet). An interesting case study might be GAIM. Here was a open-source application that was really ready to take off and become a leader in my opinion. Although the UI could've been better (I prefer Trillian's look), it was one of those "it just works" programs that could've hooked users. However, it's been stagnant in its development. 6 months goes by without any updates on its official site and each beta release takes ages. If I didn't know better, I would have thought that the project was dead and why would I use a dying application?
Update: I just want to clarify that I do realize that there is development going on with GAIM. I can check the source control and see that changes are taking place. However, even though I am a developer, this isn't my area of focus so I don't usually go looking at the change logs. I go to the web site every so often and see if there are any important changes or news. After many months of no updates, I start feeling like the project is dying which happens to most software projects since not one important change has happened that is worthy of being put on the web site. To me, none of this is a big deal. GAIM is pretty cool and if it works, I'll use it. If it doesn't, I'll look for something else.