Google has released a Google Talk gadget, enabling users to embed the Google Talk instant communication service in web pages without installing any software.

The product displays a Flash-based interface on web pages and allows users to see who's online and send IMs (instant messages) from their Google personalised homepage. Unlike Google's Talk PC application, the gadget loads automatically on the page and needs no software download, but will require Adobe Flash Player 8.0 or above.

The Google Talk instant communication service was launched in August 2005 but has proved less popular than IM services from companies such as AOL and Yahoo.

The Talk Gadget can be added to a web page or blog by inserting a single line of code to your site. New features in the Google Talk Gadget include the ability to paste a URL from YouTube or Picasa Web Albums into your chat and preview videos and photos in the conversation.

Google Talk can be used with the Windows Vista OS (operating system). Those using okrut, Google's free networking service that connects people through a network of trusted friends, will also be able to chat with their okrut friends within Google Talk.

The latest version of Google Talk also enables messages to be sent to friends when they are offline, transfer an unlimited number of files and folders, leave voicemail messages and let your contacts see what music you are listening to. Many of these are existing features of other popular IM services such as Microsoft's Instant Messenger.