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Google Unveils Instant Messaging, Phone App

Continuing its relentless product release schedule, Google, Inc. today introduced Google Talk, a free downloadable Windows application for instant messaging and PC-to-PC voice calls.

The Google Talk software requires a Gmail account, which until today has been available only by invitation. But going forward, Google is making Gmail accounts more widely available.

Users seeking Gmail accounts can authenticate themselves using a mobile phone number. A text message will then be sent to the corresponding phone with an authorization code. Entering that code online unlocks a single Gmail account. The phone number used will be retained to prevent further Gmail registrations.

"We want to make sure no one person can get hundreds or thousands of accounts with one phone number," explains Georges Harik, director of product management for communication and collaboration products. "The reason for doing this verification is to protect our system from abuse."

Google's system relies on the XMPP, or Jabber, protocol. That means those favoring operating systems other than Windows or alternative IM clients, including Adium, iChat, GAIM, Psi, and Trillian, can connect to the Google Talk network and send IMs.

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