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Google merges Gmail with chat

Gmail Chat lets people send instant messages from e-mail account, see when contacts are online and save chat history.

Google on Monday was set to launch Gmail Chat, which will let users send instant messages with one click from their e-mail account, see when contacts are online and save the chat history like an e-mail message.
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CNET News.com reporter Elinor Mills explains how to use some of its new features.

The application's Quick Contacts list is synchronized with a user's Google Talk friends list and automatically displays the people a user communicates with most frequently and shows their online status. Clicking on a contact listed as being online opens a chat window in the browsers.

The application lets users save their chat history for easy searching later and click an "off the record" option so that no conversation with that person going forward is saved by either party until they choose to go back on the record.

Gmail Chat is available on Internet Explorer 6.0 and higher and Firefox 1.0 and higher and in the U.S. English interface only.

While the chat functions of Google Talk are integrated into Gmail, users must download the Google Talk client application to make voice calls.

In the United States, Gmail is the fourth most popular Web-based e-mail program, and Google Talk is ranked seventh among instant messaging programs, according to Nielsen/NetRatings.

Yahoo Mail indicates to users when their Yahoo Messenger contacts are online and allows them to launch a dialog with them instantly, as well as letting them make voice calls. It also allows users to check their voice mail and launch voice calling from Yahoo Mail. America Online's AIM Triton offers integrated e-mail, instant messaging, SMS text messaging and voice and video chat.