Microsoft and Yahoo to link IM networks

Microsoft and Yahoo will make their respective consumer instant-message (IM) networks partly interoperable in the second quarter of next year, the companies announced Wednesday.

This is the first such agreement between major providers of this extremely popular online service, which allows users to communicate in a variety of ways, such as text-message exchanges, PC-to-PC voice chats, voice-over-Internet-Protocol phone calls, photo sharing, file sharing, Webcam video transmission and gaming.

However, communications between MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger users will be limited to exchanging text messages, PC-to-PC voice chatting, sharing some emoticons and adding contacts from both services to their contacts' list, said Dan Rosensweig, Yahoo's chief operating officer, during a press conference. "We're thrilled to be talking to you about interoperability between Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger," he said.

Combined, MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger will have an estimated 275 million users, according to the companies. However, America Online's (AOL's) AIM service is the single largest IM network in terms of users.

MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and AOL AIM don't interoperate with each other, but there have been ways to get around the problem. For example, Trillian, developed by Cerulean Studios, is an application that consolidates in a single interface IM contacts from a variety of IM services, including those three. While Trillian doesn't solve the interoperability problem, it does prevent users from having to keep an IM buddy-list interface open for each network.

Ironically, MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and AOL AIM do interoperate with Microsoft's enterprise IM system Live Communications Server 2005.

AOL AIM interoperates with other IM platforms, such as Apple Computer's iChat, Reuters Group PLC's system and AOL's own ICQ, a sister IM network to AIM.

Like the Yahoo and Microsoft plan, the interoperability tie-ups that exist in the industry between different IM services are invariably limited to a set of features, as opposed to full interoperability where the entire range of features of one service is replicated on another.

In the case of Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger, the companies decided to focus on key core features, such as text messaging and PC-to-PC voice communications, and, at least for now, leave out advanced features such as games and photo sharing, Yahoo and Microsoft executives said during the press conference.

They also stressed repeatedly that the hard work for the Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger teams begins now, because linking the two massive IM networks will be complicated, particularly since both companies want to make sure users' security and privacy aren't compromised in any way.

However, the two rivals-turned-partners believe the hard work will pay off for them, by expanding their respective IM communities and giving users a much-requested development.

"This is one of those situations where one-plus-one can equal three," said Blake Irving, corporate vice president of the MSN Communication Services and Member Platform group. "We're excited to announce plans around something that we know for a fact will delight our users."

The partnership means Microsoft and Yahoo may have set their eyes on higher advertising revenue based on a larger aggregation of instant messenger users, said John Delaney, principal analyst with Ovum.

It also may mark a shoring of strength by the two companies against Google, which is positioning itself as a strong challenger with its Gmail Web mail service and new Google Talk IM service, Delaney said.

"I think Google represents a big threat both to MSN and Yahoo, both of whom are based on communication services," Delaney said.

(Jeremy Kirk in London contributed with this story.)

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?