What is IRC exactly?
Short for Internet Relay Chat, IRC is a chat system developed by Jarkko Oikarinen in Finland in the late 1980s. IRC has become very popular as more people get connected to the Internet because it enables people connected anywhere on the Internet to join in live discussions. Unlike older chat systems, IRC is not limited to just two participants. To join an IRC discussion, you need an IRC client (MS Chat 2.5) and Internet access. The IRC client is a program that runs on your computer and sends and receives messages to and from an IRC server. The IRC server, in turn, is responsible for making sure that all messages are broadcast to everyone participating in a discussion. There can be many discussions going on at once; each one is assigned a unique channel.
What is so special about Microsoft Chat 2.5?
Microsoft Chat 2.5 is the latest and only IRC chat client of its kind that will be released. On February 21, 2001 Microsoft ceased updates and support MS Chat and closed its servers for it permanently.
It takes a different and more entertaining approach to chatting. Instead of boring text lines, MS Chat allows you to display chat in text, but also in a comic strip fashion. You can use characters and backgrounds (AVB files - characters or BGB files - backgrounds) of your choosing during chat. You can also transfer files, play sounds, create you own chatroom, and print the comic strip if you wish. It is very entertaining and nothing like it out there today; that I know of.