Microsoft, Yahoo Test IM Partnership
Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. are beginning a limited test of plans to make their instant messaging systems work together.
Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. are beginning a limited test of plans to make
their instant messaging systems work together. The much-vaunted pairing comes a bit later than the two companies had originally
hoped. The project was delayed because Microsoft wanted to make sure the systems
would work well with both companies' millions of users, Microsoft executive
Blake Irving said Wednesday.
"It's not the technical difficulty of the service itself. It's the technical
difficulty of the scale that we're trying reach," said Irving, a corporate
vice president for the Windows Live Platform.
Microsoft and Yahoo announced plans last October to let people using either
company's instant messaging software send lightning-fast bits of text to each
other. The system was supposed to be in place by June.
Right now, Microsoft, Yahoo and Time Warner Inc.'s AOL all have separate instant
messaging systems that don't easily work together, creating hassles for people
who want to communicate with friends or colleagues using other programs.
Microsoft does sell a product that lets business users send and receive messages
from the competing systems, but that's not available for people who just have
the company's free offering.
The pairing of Microsoft and Yahoo -- who compete aggressively in other areas
-- has been seen as a way to better take on U.S. market leader AOL and perhaps
even form a defense against mutual rival Google Inc. Although Google is still
a minor player in instant messaging, the two companies have reason to fear the
Internet search leader's ever-expanding reach.
The test of the companies' interoperability plans will initially be available
only to limited numbers of people who have the latest version of either company's
instant messaging products: Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger with
Voice. The functionality is expected to be broadly available by the end of the
The development comes as instant messaging has expanded to include even more
communications options, such as voice and video. That's made the increasingly
sophisticated systems a more integral part of people's work and home lives.
For now, the Yahoo-Microsoft partnership will only work for sending text back
and forth, although the companies said there are plans to eventually add voice
"We want to get it right, not just get it out," said Brad Garlinghouse,
a Yahoo senior vice president. "We will be implementing voice. We don't
have a date to share with you at this point."
The executives said there are no current plans to add video capabilities between
the two systems, but it could be a possibility later on.