Microsoft, Yahoo to Test IM Interoperability Plan

Microsoft and Yahoo are teaming up to test a plan to make their popular instant-messaging (IM) services function effectively with each other, the Associated Press reports via the New York Post.

The two companies announced last October that they would link their two IM services to lets their users rapidly transmit text messages back and forth between services, but Blake Irving, a corporate vice president for the Microsoft Live Platform, told the AP the tests were delayed to make sure the service would function efficiently for their millions of users. Microsoft and Yahoo initially said the system would be operational by June, according to the AP.

“It’s not the technical difficulty of the service itself,” Irving told the AP. “It’s the technical difficulty of the scale that we’re trying to reach.”

Currently, Microsoft, Yahoo and Time Warner’s AOL operate three of the most popular and widely used IM systems in the world, but none of them work well together. IM systems have seen a boost in usage rates within businesses and outside the office in recent years, and such interoperability issues have hindered users’ ability to quickly communicate with others who employ different instant messengers.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft currently offers a product for sale to business users that enables them to send and receive text messages from other IM systems, but people who use its free offering don’t have access to the tool, according to the AP.

A partnership between software giant Microsoft and Yahoo would better position both firms for competition with rival AOL, as well as uber company Google. Though Google is not a major presence in the IM space, its constant unveiling of free online services is a threat to all major Web firms, including Microsoft and Yahoo.

A handful of Web surfers who use the most recent version of the two companies’ IM services—Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo Messenger with Voice—will be able to participate in the interoperability tests, and the rest of the two companies’ users will be able to send each other messages via the new functionality by the end of the year, the AP reports.

Microsoft and Yahoo IM users will initially be able to send only text messages, though the two firms plan to eventually add voice capabilities, according to the AP. There are no plans right now to add video capabilities, the AP reports.

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