Yahoo preps Web version of Messenger

Browser-based version of Yahoo's IM service will appeal to users who travel a lot

Yahoo introduced Wednesday evening a new browser-based version of its Messenger instant messaging service, so that users can access their accounts without needing the PC application on the machine they're using.

Yahoo Messenger for the Web can be accessed from this site and doesn't require any software downloads.

The service will come in handy for Yahoo Messenger users who travel a lot or who live in countries where PC penetration is low, said Yahoo spokeswoman Terrell Karlsten.

On Thursday, Yahoo will launch the service in the U.S., Brazil, India, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. A broader rollout will follow.

Years ago, Yahoo had a Web-based version of Yahoo Messenger that was built on Java, but the company phased it out, she said. This new service was built using Adobe Systems' Flash, so it's able to provide "rich Internet experiences" to users, she said.

In order to keep the application "lite," Messenger for the Web packs the key IM features of the PC version but lacks other advanced capabilities, like Web cam video transmission, file transfers, and voice communications, she said.

On the other hand, Messenger for the Web has some features that the PC version doesn't have, like tabbed chat windows and the ability to save conversations on Yahoo servers, where the subscriber can access them and search their text later.

Like the PC version, Messenger for the Web is compatible with Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger, so users from each service can engage in IM text chats.

AOL and Microsoft both provide Web-based versions of their respective IM services.

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