Gaim has become a widely known instant messenger because it is not only cross-platform (meaning it works on multiple operating systems) but it is also cross-network. Using only this application you can connect with friends on AIM, MSN, Yahoo!, Jabber (or Google Talk), and ICQ without needing separate messenger clients for each one.
AOL, however, had a little fit because of the similarities in the name “Gaim” when compared to their already trademarked “AIM”. AOL must have realized that Gaim could become the messenger of choice for users since Gaim has already become pretty popular as a no-cost instant messenger alternative.
AOL and Gaim finally settled on a name change to Pidgin, which will definitely take some getting used to on my part. The good news is that the development team had been holding back releasing a new version of the messenger until all of their legal woes cleared. Now that it has passed they say that 2.0.0 should be available late this week or early next week.
Here is what the team had to say about the situation:
Getting a settlement with AOL has taken FAR FAR longer than we would have ever guessed. On legal advice, we have refrained from any non-beta release during this process as a show of good faith, and to keep AOL from giving up on it. Again, on legal advice, we have also kept this information closely controlled.
At long last, I am pleased to announce that we have a signed settlement and can release our new version. There is one catch however: we have had to change the project’s name.
I’m still a little in shock that this even had to happen, but I guess that is how the legal world works. If someone is jeopardizing the success of your own software (and advertising) then do what you can to remove them from the picture. Maybe I’m wrong about AOL’s reasoning for having to do this, but I think they saw a genuine competitor for their own instant messenger client which makes AOL a lot of money for displaying embedded ads.
The new homepage for the messenger is Pidgin.im, but it still looks like they have some rebranding to go through because most of the site still refers to Gaim and not Pidgin.