Microsoft and Yahoo test IM interoperability

Microsoft and Yahoo have opened up their respective instant messaging clients in a new public testing initiative. Albeit limited, the beta test allows users of Microsoft's new Windows Live Messenger to talk to Yahoo Messenger users, and vice versa. Microsoft says users who sign up for the beta program can add each other as contacts, send each other instant messages, and view status and offline messages across the two IM clients.

Interoperability will become broadly available "in the coming months," by which point Microsoft claims the resulting merged Yahoo and Microsoft community will be the biggest in the world with nearly 350 million users. U.S. usage share may differ, though. Going by Nielsen/NetRatings figures quoted by CNet, in September 2005 AOL Instant Messenger had 51.5 million users in the U.S., while MSN Messenger had 27.3 million, and Yahoo Messenger had 21.9 million.

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