Do You QQ?

Posted in Personal Anecdotes, Society at 4:02 pm by Benjamin Ross

Tencent QQ penguin

Do you have QQ? Chances are if you live in the People’s Republic of China, you have heard this sentence multiple times…in the past week. If you have never been to China, you probably have no idea what I am talking about. QQ is one of the world’s most widely used Internet chat clients, yet most people outside of China have never even heard of it.

QQ was originally known as OICQ, presumably as a ploy on ICQ. Since the name change, the letters “QQ” (a loose transliteration of 酷酷, a slang Chinese word which roughly means “cool”) have been popping up all over Chinese pop culture. Chery, a Chinese auto manufacturer now makes a low-end car called the QQ, and QQ奶茶 (QQ milk tea) has been popping up on the menus of Chinese restaurants and kiosks. Even more ubiquitous than the initials, may be the QQ penguin, who seems to appear on billboards, TV advertisements, and public events all over China.

The QQ software itself is garbage. It’s buggy, unstable, and contains a plethora of annoying flashy advertisements and bonus features which crowd the interface. From time to time, when logging in to QQ, users are greeted with a message that the server is overloaded and that they will have to login again later. To make matters even more complicated, QQ is not written with Unicode. This means that to get the Chinese version of QQ running on an English version of Windows, you have to switch the default non-Unicode program language on your computer to Chinese. (Originally I tried installing the English version, but removed it when I found it would not let me type Chinese characters, thus defeating the point of using QQ in the first place). Additionally, I have also heard numerous reports of spy ware and viruses being contracted through QQ. Yet QQ offers one distinct advantage over any other chat client, and that is everybody (I mean EVERYBODY) under the age of 30 in Mainland China has an account (if not 3). Walk into any Internet café in China, and you will likely notice that cute little penguin in the corner of the majority of the patrons’ desktops.

Because of its widespread usage in China, QQ is an integral tool for developing and maintaining a Chinese contact base. While older and more business savvy Chinese professionals are coming to prefer more “mature” chat clients such as MSN or Skype, it is still not uncommon for them to maintain QQ accounts as well, if not only for that same reason that everybody else in China seems to have one. My own personal QQ buddy list is chalked full of former students, friends, business contacts, and random folks I have met in crowded hard-seat cross-country trains, many of whom without QQ I would have lost contact with. Another advantage of QQ is that it is an excellent tool for obtaining and/or maintaining Chinese literacy. For me, I try to spend at least 15 minutes of my day on QQ, if nothing more than just for a quick Chinese character refreshment.

So it came to my dismay, but not to my surprise, that when I got my new computer I found the old version of QQ which I had been using (QQ 2006 Beta2) was not compatible with Windows Vista. I promptly went to qq.com and downloaded the new version (QQ 2007 II) which according to the website supports vista. I ran the install file, which installed halfway, then gave me an error message telling me the program I was running was not compatible with Windows Vista. Turns out, the new version of QQ is only compatible with the Chinese version of Windows Vista. I guess I should have seen that one coming.


Update: I finally got QQ to work with Vista, but it wasn’t without the token roadblocks. I got the new English version to install properly, but as soon as I sent my first message I received an error which read “Your flash player version is too low, in order to display normally. Please click here to download the latest version.” Only when I clicked “here” it was a broken link. I updated my flash player manually, and it seems to be working properly…for now.


  1. Philip Lean Australia said,

    April 23, 2012 at 2:54 am

    You can get the international version of QQ here http://www.imqq.com/

  2. Drew Australia said,

    June 23, 2012 at 3:35 am

    To Philip Lean.

    When I try to download imqq it asks me what server to use. Which one should I use? As you can see I am in Australia too.

    Many thanks.


  3. Philip Lean Australia said,

    June 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    Hi Drew

    Are you downloading the international version from here ? http://intl.imqq.com/download.html

    I just did a download and I didn’t get the server message, but it should not matter which server you use anyway.


  4. loenely planet Sweden said,

    February 13, 2013 at 4:29 pm

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  5. Benjamin Ross United States said,

    February 17, 2013 at 6:40 pm

    No problem at all on quoting articles. I just ask you include a link back to the original post. Thanks

  6. Steven Kalbach Netherlands said,

    November 1, 2014 at 5:00 am

    The current version of QQ international seems quite stable to me (v 2.1) and seems to use less resources than Skype. I personally prefer it over Skype. Skype also lacks the ability to translate as well which is quite helpful if you are chatting with someone in a language you neither speak or understand. The pop up screen you get when starting QQ can be turned off if it bothers you and there are no pop ups in the chat window either.

  7. boo yew chee Singapore said,

    November 19, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Why always my phone call or video call have transmission problem.It either cut off suddenly or voice or picture unclear.

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