Yahoo Messenger kills the Pager

Acknowledging the enormous popularity of instant messaging, Yahoo this week released an enhanced version of its free Yahoo Pager program, now dubbed Yahoo Messenger. On top of staples such as text-based instant messaging and chat, Messenger piles voice chat and conferencing, news and several types of alerts.

Despite all the new features, existing Yahoo Pager customers will probably feel comfortable upgrading to Messenger. When Yahoo announced Pager almost two years ago, it was simply a text-based messaging tool. Since then, Pager has evolved into a suite of tools. That has made Pager a somewhat misleading name, a Yahoo spokesperson says. The new Messenger moniker is intended to convey the richness of the application's feature set.

Getting started

Setting up Messenger is simple. The 1.2MB client downloads relatively quickly and installs flawlessly. If you don't already have a Yahoo identity, you'll have to set one up. But with close to 50 million users, Yahoo clearly has done this before, and the account-creation process is as streamlined as possible.

In terms of usability, I was impressed with Messenger's clean user interface, particularly compared with ICQ, my usual instant-messaging client. Messenger's raison d'etre -- messaging -- is apparent from its few icons: for sending messages, adding friends to your contact list, changing your profile, and searching for new contacts. Your online status appears in black-and-white -- I'm Available, Be Right Back, Busy -- and changing your status is child's play.

I kept getting disconnected during my text chats, however, and had to reconnect to Yahoo several times. I'm sure this was just a network problem that will resolve itself with enough fiddling. But be aware before you throw yourself into it that Messenger is not a foolproof product.

Nor does Messenger seem to come with an ICQ staple: file transfer. For geographically dispersed business users in particular, file transfer capabilities can be a real lifesaver -- they're infinitely better than e-mail attachments.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to try Messenger's voice features -- you need to have a microphone set up to do that.

Tight integration

Where Messenger really gets interesting is in its close integration with the My Yahoo portal. Messenger gives you one-button access to Yahoo's most popular features: mail, calendar, stocks, sports scores, and news, all with alarms. Dig a little deeper under the Y menu and you'll also find links to other Yahoo services, such as chat rooms, games, personal ads and classifieds.

Of course, for Messenger to be truly useful, your contacts must use it too. If you're an existing Pager user, give it a shot -- the new features might come in handy. It's also worth a try if you're not now using any instant-messaging suite -- it's easy to learn, and you might get something out of it.

But if you're already entrenched with another instant-messaging tool, Messenger doesn't offer any significant benefit over the path of least resistance -- at least, not for me.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Alex Barrett

PC World
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?