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Yahoo! Upgrades Messenger

Making the latest play in the instant messaging game, Yahoo! Inc. Monday rolled out Yahoo! Messenger 3.0, a new version of the popular messaging tool.

The upgrade offers voice chat capability, tighter integration with Yahoo!'s (YHOO) online tools and services, and the ability to join online conversations with others who are browsing the same content and information.

Users with microphones, speakers and sound enabled computers can simply initiate a hands-free voice chat with another Yahoo! Messenger user, just as if they were talking on a phone, free of charge. Its most useful new aspect may be that users browsing Yahoo! content can now communicate in real-time with others who are interested in the same information using a new online conversations feature. This feature is initially available to people accessing articles on Yahoo! News.

The new version also features calendar and auctions tabs for convenience.

"Our latest version of Yahoo! Messenger makes it even easier for people to interact instantly with each other to exchange thoughts, ideas and opinions on the topics they're most interested in discussing," said Brian Park, a senior producer at Yahoo!.

Two weeks ago, Yahoo bundled its instant messaging and e-mail services on Palm computing's handhelds, a play to expand onto non-PC devices.

The juggernaut's latest product roll-out comes at a time when the market for instant mobile messaging supremacy is en fuego. On Feb. 28, America Online Inc. (AOL) introduced its Mobile Messenger, a wireless version of its e-mail and Instant Messenger products. Just a few days later, CMGI's (CMGI) entertainment start-up iCast complained that AOL is holding AIM too close by refusing to allow interoperability with rivals.



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