Yahoo Adds Teeth to Messenger

Internet portal Yahoo says it will scrap the
walkie-talkie style technology used on its PC-to-PC voice communications in
favor of a new beta version that boasts a steady connection.

The service, available on Yahoo Messenger,
offers improved PC-to-PC voice connections, interactive photo sharing, and
improved integration with other Yahoo properties, as well as several more bells and
whistles not found on the previous incarnation, according to the company.

“Talking to your computer no longer means you are crazy, it means you are
smart, because you are taking advantage of innovative technology and a
unique combination of features that only Yahoo Messenger offers,” Brad
Garlinghouse, vice president of communications products at Yahoo, said in a
statement.

Garlinghouse also said Yahoo is committed to providing a “world-class IM
experience” for consumers, and expects the company to continue to enhance
and extend voice services as a core component of Yahoo Messenger.

Unlike the earlier PC-to-PC voice, the beta will have a constant
connection with “good voice quality,” even if users are connected by
dial-up, the company said. The previous model only allowed for
back-and-forth, walkie-talkie style communications.

Also, for the first time, voicemail messages can be left even for users
who are not online, and can be retrieved through a call-history log that
displays all voicemail messages. To further personalize the PC-to-PC calling
experience, users can customize ring tones.

The move comes at a time when interest in Voice over IP is blossoming and companies are looking to take advantage of “free phone” facilities that allow subscribers to call anywhere in the world.

Yahoo’s chief IM competition — Microsoft’s MSN
Messenger and America Online’s AIM — also provide similar VoIP services.

Those companies, along with Yahoo, continue to provide added services in
an escalating efforts to capture the growing and changing instant messaging
markets. Yahoo has recently added numerous services to tie its IM client to
other services, including blogs, music, television and more.

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