Microsoft, Yahoo IM clients finally to chat each other up

Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger with Voice will be able to connect to each other through either service as of Wednesday night

For the first time, Microsoft and Yahoo will allow interoperability between the consumer versions of their instant-messaging (IM) clients, the companies said Wednesday.

Beginning Wednesday night Pacific Standard Time, the companies will offer limited public testing that enables users of Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger with Voice to connect to each other through either service.

Once they gain access to the beta, users can exchange instant messages across the two services, as well as see their friends' online presence, view personal status messages, share emoticons, view offline messages and add new contacts between the services.

Microsoft already has enabled IM interoperability between Live Communications Server (LCS), its enterprise unified messaging software, and IM clients from Yahoo and American Online Inc. as well as its own Windows Live Messenger. Business customers that have purchased LCS and Office Communicator, the client interface for LCS, can connect to all of those IM clients. Wednesday marks the first time users of the free Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo IM clients can take advantage of interoperability between them, Microsoft said.

The beta program will be available in the U.S. as well as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey and the U.K.

Microsoft and Yahoo plan to make this interoperability available to all users of Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger with Voice in the next few months, the companies said.

Microsoft declined to comment directly on whether it would soon have a similar deal to make Windows Live Messenger interoperate with AOL LLC's consumer IM client, but said that the company "anticipates more of these relationships in the future."

Windows Live Messenger is the latest incarnation of what was formerly MSN Messenger. Microsoft rebranded the product as part of its Windows Live online services plan and released the first version of Windows Live Messenger last month.

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