The idea of an all-in-one chat and voice-over-IP application is appealing. After all, who wants to fire up a different application every time they need to reach a different contact in a different way? That's why Nimbuzz Messenger (free) has a lot of appeal for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. See all: PC Advisor software downloads.

Nimbuzz lets you chat with friends across various social networks and messaging services, allows you to share files easily, and offers easy-to-use tools for voice calling. Unfortunately, though, it's lacking a few key features.

To begin using Nimbuzz Messenger for PC (currently in version 2.4), you need to create a free Nimbuzz account, and then link your existing social media and instant messaging accounts to it.

Doing so is a (mostly) automated process: you simply enter your name and password, and Nimbuzz makes the connection. This process worked seamless when I connected my Facebook account, but it stumbled slightly when I added my Google account. The request was denied, and I had to go into my Google settings to grant Nimbuzz permission manually.

Nimbuzz Messenger lets you connect with other Nimbuzz users, as well as contacts on Facebook, Google Talk, Windows Live Messenger, and Yahoo. Notably absent from that list is AOL Instant Messenger, the IM service I rely on the most. Nimbuzz does, however, offer a group chat feature that offers a nice way to connect with multiple contacts.

If your favorite messaging services are supported by Nimbuzz, though, you'll appreciate its clean, neatly-organized interface.

It's easy to scroll through contacts and see their status. I do wish Nimbuzz automatically merged contacts, as I--like most people--have the same person listed in multiple services.

In addition to chat, Nimbuzz also offers VoIP calls.

You can place voice and video calls for free to other Nimbuzz users, or you can buy NimbuzzOut credits to place calls to mobile phones and landlines. The free calls are useful if you know other Nimbuzz users, which I don't.

I do, however, have plenty of contacts on Skype, which makes Skype a more appealing option. The rates for NimbuzzOut compare favorably to Skype's rates, with both services offering calls to the UK for just about 2 cents per minute, for example. And both services offer comparable call quality; it ranges from very good to decent depending on your Internet connection and where you're calling.

The company also offers a version for Macs, a Web-based version that doesn't require a download, and mobile versions for various smartphones and tablets, including the iPhone version reviewed by Macworld. Your account, which you create the first time you use Nimbuzz, syncs across all of the applications. That makes it easy to switch from device to device as necessary.

Nimbuzz Messenger: Specs

  • Windows XP/Vista/7/8
  • Windows XP/Vista/7/8

OUR VERDICT

Nimbuzz is easy to use, easy on the eyes, and relatively easy on the wallet. I just wish it supported AIM; if it did, I'd spend a whole lot more time using it.

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