I hope this thread does not turn into a “My client is better than your client” type of thread.
I have a preference for gaim for a few reasons.
It is cross-compatible between Windows and Linux (and we have workstations of both types here).
There is a nice plugin (gaim-encryption) that is available for both the Linux and Windows versions. I’'ve found that configuring encryption between differing clients is more of a pain than it is worth where this is exceptionally simple.
The client has a good feature set (not perfect, admittedly) but does include support for other protocols if needed.
Gaim does have the ability to minimize to a tray icon in both Windows and Linux as well as configuring it to NOT steal focus or pop-up upon receipt of a new message. Many clients are starting to add this ability now, but not all of them have this yet.
It installs into the O/S via packages as opposed to many of the java clients which unfortunately require a manual installation and don’'t install into the O/S program menu automatically.
Lastly, I like the fact that it is open source. I’‘m no bigot that says everything should be free. I just like the fact that the client is free (which makes the managers/finance happy). Also, some clients are duel-licensed where they are free for home use, but not for corporate use. This isn’'t a concern with this client.
Admittedly, I work in a corporate environment and unfortunately have to make things easy when offering software for our MIS/IT department to consider. My preferences may not work for everyone, but it is better to be informed of all choices and why people make them.