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File transfers come to iGoogle, Orkut; Gmail's next

Google Talk is finally getting a feature it's been missing since launch: file transfers. The feature could even be making it to Gmail soon.

Google has finally added one of the biggest omissions to the Web-based version of its Google Talk service: size limit-free, P2P file transfers.

The feature, which has been a part of the service's desktop software since mid-2006, went live on the Google Talk widgets inside of iGoogle and Orkut on Monday.

The endgame here--which Google says is coming, is to bring file-sharing into Gmail's integrated Google Talk. Imagine, if you will, a situation where you want to share a big file, and Gmail's attachment limit is just not cutting it. Your options are simple: you could hop over to another Google property with storage (like Google Docs) and upload the file there. Or you could go with a myriad of external file-sharing and storage services. Once this feature comes to Gmail, though, you just bug the other person to hop on Google Talk, and then start your large transfer there.

That situation, as lovely as it sounds, could be a pipe dream, though. In our testing we couldn't send executable files, which, while safer because it could limit the sending of malware, means you can't send handy software-installing packages like Ninite (coverage). Here's hoping future versions will pack the same kind of virus-scanning prowess Gmail's attachment handler has had since 2005, but in real-time. That may, in fact, be what is holding it up from being a part of Gmail already.

(Left) The new file transfer menu, which has been in the software version of Google Talk for years. (Right) What transfers look in-line with your conversation. Screenshot by Josh Lowensohn/CNET