Those of you who’ve been using multi-protocol instant messaging clients for any length of time are probably already familiar with Pidgin. Nevertheless, this week the popular open source application received an important update worth mentioning here as it brings a pair of major new features, the first of which is video and voice chat support over XMPP – known primarily as the Jabber/Google Talk protocol.

Unfortunately, there is one caveat – and it’s big. If you are on Windows, video and audio chat support is not yet available, but the Pidgin team promises it is coming soon. Version 2.6.1 also adds rough theming support for the buddy list, sounds, and status icons; voice clips and handwritten notes on MSN; peer-to-peer file transfers for Yahoo; as well as a whole bunch of other tweaks and bug fixes. The full list of changes can be read here.

For those not in the know, Pidgin is a free and open source instant messaging application that includes broad support for multiple accounts on multiple IM networks simultaneously. This means that you can be chatting with friends on AIM, talking to a friend on Yahoo Messenger, and sitting in an IRC channel all at the same time. It supports many features of the various networks it works with, is extendable through the use of plug-ins, and runs on all Windows and Unix platforms.