ICQ Goes Lite in New Alpha

ICQ on Monday released a new alpha version of its wildly popular instant messaging client, dubbed ICQ Lite. Named for its small size and interface simplicity, ICQ Lite is a new direction for a company that continues to tack new features onto its main Windows client.

The release is also a sign that ICQ has been listening to its users who have long complained about unnecessary additions and the abundance of advertising in ICQ chat windows.

ICQ Lite is a small download at 1.4 MB, and requires very little system resources to run. But despite its small size, the client still contains ICQ's most popular features such as file transfer and SMS. Messages take on an AIM-like interface in ICQ Lite, displaying a full conversation in a single window above the writing area. Taking a page from MSN Messenger, ICQ Lite also sports a typing indicator, which displays when your friend or colleague is typing a message. Perhaps most attractive to current users, ICQ Lite contains no advertising.

Avid ICQ fans however, will note the lack of an automatic message history. Conversations can still be saved manually into text files, but the process can become quite a chore for frequent chatters. Also absent are group chats and voice support.

ICQ Lite may be downloaded for all versions of Windows except 95 via FileForum. While still in its alpha phase, ICQ may opt to restrict the number users on the Lite system as it has done in the past with previous clients. ICQ is requesting feedback from testers on a special message board dedicated to the alpha release.

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