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Yahoo! & Microsoft to merge online chat services

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MUMBAI: In a significant development that the web business space witnessed, Yahoo! and Microsoft announced limited public beta testing of interoperability between their instant messaging (IM) services.

This would enable users of Windows Live Messenger, the Next Generation MSN Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger with Voice to connect with each other.

To be made available to their consumers in the coming months, this interoperability between the two global consumer IM providers is expected to form the world's largest consumer IM community, approaching 350 million accounts, informs an official release.

Consumers worldwide from Microsoft and Yahoo! will be able to join the limited public beta program and exchange instant messages across the free services, see their friends' online presence, view personal status messages, share select emoticons, view offline messages and add new contacts from either service at no cost.

The new beta program will be rolled out in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada (English and French), China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Taiwan, Turkey, the UK and US (English and Spanish).

Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger with voice users in the US and more than 15 international markets can register to participate in the IM interoperability beta by visiting Yahoo! at http://messenger.yahoo.com or Microsoft at http://ideas.live.com, adds the release.

Microsoft's Windows Live Platform corporate vice president Blake Irving comments about the landmark agreement, "This first-of-its-kind interoperability between consumer IM leaders Microsoft and Yahoo! gives our customers tremendous control, convenience and freedom in their Web communication experiences with Windows Live. We're proud to deliver this latest advancement in IM services that empower people to communicate with virtually whomever they want, wherever they want and whenever they want."

"Interoperability between IM services has consistently topped our users' wish lists, and through the collaborative efforts between Yahoo! and Microsoft we are delighted to provide our combined global users with the ultimate IM experience. A new era for staying connected with friends and family is here, and the bridge between Yahoo!'s and Microsoft's IM communities is bringing people around the world closer together," adds Yahoo! Communications, Community and Front Doors senior VP Brad Garlinghouse.

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