ICQ returns from spammy wasteland

ICQ was one of the first instant messaging services. I remember using it when only the nerdiest of my pals signed onto IM services, and they tended to be either ICQ or AOL Instant Messenger. AIM is still going strong, but ICQ petered out and turned into a spammy wasteland. The now-AOL owned ICQ has been upgraded to version 7. Is it any good? Let’s have a look.

The first thing that greets you when you open the new ICQ is a synthy foghorn. How can I turn this off? First thing’s first, importing contacts.

I selected Facebook and entered my details. “Sorry, there are no contacts in this address book.” Remember when EVERYONE used ICQ? Like, in 1998? They don’t anymore, but hey, maybe they will.

Let’s try Gmail contacts. There are two gmail contacts I don’t remember at all, but ok, whatever, added. My Windows Live (that’s MSN) contact finder reaps the most results, with about 10 people using ICQ. This could be really cool if it imported your existing contacts and let you connect through other servers a la Nimbuzz on mobiles, but since ICQ is now AOL-backed and owned that’s unlikely ever to happen.

At this point I’d like to note that my Firefox homepage has been changed to start.icq.com and my search bar no longer goes straight through Google, but instead through ICQ search (enhanced by Google). Urghhh.

Onto other features. Pocket Lint says there’s added functionality, including Facebook Twitter, YouTube and Flickr. I’m frantically clicking on ‘set up your feeds’ and absolutely nothing is happening. I’m frantically clicking on ‘settings’ and nothing is happening.

Thirteen years on and ICQ is pretty much the same, except that now it’s a complete ghost town. Which means not much scope for ICQ’s best use in its infancy, childish pranks. Whose bright idea was this? Avoid.