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I'm looking for a piece of software that can send plain text messages between two Windows computers on the same network.

There used to be a Net Send feature in Windows, but when it came to XP SP3 I understand that Microsoft decided to lock it down.

I'd prefer it to have a GUI with a 'pop-up' notification system like emails in Outlook rather than using command prompt to not frighten less tech-savvy users!

It would also be good to have a feature where it notifies you if the intended recipient is 'online' so to speak.

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LAN Messenger is free (actually open source) and will do everything you need.

There is a Windows build of it (as well as builds for Mac and a few popular flavours of Linux) which runs just fine on Windows 7 (I use it every day), that supports plain text messaging between different computers on the same local network.

It has a user interface very similar to online chat clients, allowing user's to set their status (online, away, offline etc.) and for other users to see this status, and will show a popup in the task bar when new messages arrive.

A few additional features it supports:

  • Broadcast message (You can send a normal message to all online users)
  • Private chat rooms (chat between selected users)
  • Public chat room (chat that can be joined by any online users)
  • Direct file transfer (send files to other online users)
  • Avatar image (users can set an image for themselves, both custom images and from a pre-made selection)

For the sake of disclosure: I am the packager of a portable version of LAN Messenger, but am in no way affiliated with LAN Messenger itself. I don't and can't earn anything from any download of LAN Messenger or any derivatives of it.

  • 1
    Looks perfect. Surprised I didn't see this on the web! Thanks for the prompt response too ;) – Often Right Nov 6 '14 at 5:16
2

If you were willing to accept an option that uses a central server, Openfire combined with any XMPP / Jabber client you prefer, including Ignite's own Spark client worked very well for us in our office.

It has all the features you require:

  • Plain text messaging within your network
  • User status information, including an auto idle status if the user is away from the machine
  • Pop notifications, and other notification options (sound notifications, steal focus)

Openfire is definitely a more robust option compared to other options, at the expense of additional complexity during the initial setup. But for those that may be managing more than a handful of users and want something that is both powerful and inter-operable, I can't recommend Openfire enough.

2

One of the alternatives is Softros LAN Messenger.

Pros:

  • It supports Terminal Services (great for large networks)
  • All messages are encrypted by secure algorithm
  • It sends messages to offline users

Cons:

  • Application has 30-day fully functional trial
  • Simple user interface
  • Online/offline/busy status
  • Net send command doesn't work in latest Windows systems. Softros works for XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1
  • Full version is about $12.95/12.48€ per copy
  • Thanks, Amanda! I've integrated that with your post (you can always edit your post – and facts should go in there ;) // That done, let's delete our comments to clean up :) – Izzy Dec 11 '14 at 15:48
1

Technitium Bit Chat - it is a new secure, peer-to-peer instant messenger, and an easy tool that will fulfill your needs.

  • And most importantly, open source on GitHub, and free. Looks very promising in general. Probably the most annoying aspect (especially using it just over LAN) is the necessity to register with Technitium for a certification. In other words, there is no provision for "anonymous" users who haven't registered an e-mail account with the dev entity. – chronometric Jun 23 '15 at 10:13

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