Battle of the instant messengers

Two big companies, Microsoft and Yahoo, both recently released their new instant messenger clients. Microsoft’s client is now called “Windows Live Messenger”, and Yahoo’s is a more mundane “Yahoo Messenger 8.0”; however, both are heavily integrated into their respective company’s web services, with the overall aim of both offering more features to users and attracting them to services they may not have known about.

Microsoft’s Windows Live Messenger is one of the first of the “Live” services to come out of beta – most of them are still in the development or testing stage, but it’s all very clear that these services are targeted at those offered by Google or Yahoo. Windows Live Messenger hopes to also serve as a starting point for promoting some of these services as they go “Live”. So far, Windows Live Today (a news/portal site) is promoted, as well as Windows Live Favorites, Microsoft’s take on online bookmarking. Integration with MSN Spaces (to be rebranded as Windows Live Spaces) is also present, as it was on previous versions of MSN Messenger. None of these services offer anything particularly ground-breaking, and there are better alternatives out there. (Windows Live Favourites doesn’t even come close to

But one good addition to Live Messenger is the new filesharing feature. Previously, if you wanted to share a file, you had to send it over MSN Messenger to your buddy; all too often, transfers were slow and often dropped out, and there was also the “back and forth” where different versions of the same file had to be sent back and forth as it was updated. With the new version, you can share a file with a buddy, and it creates a folder where this shared version is stored; any changes made by either side will cause the shared versions to be updated, so synchronization is a breeze. Offline messenging was also finally added.

The Yahoo announcement was perhaps a bit bigger of a deal, since they also announced they would be releasing a developer kit to allow for creation of plugins. Yahoo seems to be better than Microsoft in the area of supporting developers, and so they didn’t disappoint with their Messenger 8.0. The messenger is also heavily integrated with Yahoo’s services, such as their new 360 service, which looks like it’s centered around blogging. Though I mainly use MSN Messenger (since almost all my contacts are on it), Yahoo’s Messenger looks better because of the plugin support.

All of this is of course, intended to get users to use more web services, in the hopes of increasing ad revenue. That’s the big thing on the Internet nowadays, creating a service that people will use and like, thus creating an incentive for them to return to your site, view ads, and maybe click on a few of them.


  1. i wish they’d just combine and make only one messenger. it’s real annoying when you ask someone hey do you have msn and they’re like no but i have aim. and it just ends at that and you never get to enjoy the cyberchat with that person! think it would ever be possible for there to only be one online messenger thing?

  2. I think at one point, several years ago, at least two of the big companies (maybe Microsoft and AOL) were in talks to make their services compatible. I think the deal fell through, however, and nothing materialized.

    There have even been talks about creating an open standard for instant-messaging, based on Jabber. However, the instant-messenging market is too “factionalized” (if that’s the word I’m looking for) to accept such a standard. Again, why switch if all your users are already on one of the major networks? So far, the only IM client I know of, that really uses Jabber, is Google’s gTalk. (Trillian and other IM clients can use Jabber)

    Recently, Microsoft and Yahoo! have talked about joining hands. I will be very surprised if this happens. Why? Money. Ad-revenue is the big thing on the Internet nowadays, and you can bet Microsoft and Yahoo! both make a lot from the ads served up in their respective IM clients. Allowing compatibility would remove the incentive to switch, and thus, potentially decrease their ad-revenue. Unless some sort of ad-revenue sharing agreement can be reached, I don’t see this happening.

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