Microsoft, Yahoo connect IM services

by admin July 13, 2006 at 6:44 am

Nine months after announcing they would make their instant messaging services interoperate, Yahoo and Microsoft have done it.

The companies are set to release on Thursday a limited beta test of a service that will enable users of Windows Live Messenger (the next generation of MSN Messenger) and Yahoo Messenger with Voice to connect with each other.

The move creates a global community of nearly 350 million accounts, the companies said. The beta service is being launched globally in 15 localized languages.

“It’s the first-ever bridge between two global instant messaging services,” Blake Irving, corporate vice president in Microsoft’s Windows Live Platform division, said Wednesday.

The service will allow people to sign into both services using one user ID, and to see the status of connections of friends from both networks.

“The messenger friend list is your heart of your social network in many ways,” said Brad Garlinghouse, senior vice president of communications, community and front doors at Yahoo. “We expect a rapid ramp with millions of users in the coming weeks.”

Connecting the networks took months of testing, Irving said. “This was a very difficult technical problem to solve,” he said.

The companies announced plans last October to make their IM services interoperable, in what analysts said was a shot to market leader AOL Instant Messenger and a defensive jab at Google Talk.

AOL representatives could not be reached for comment.

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