Windows Live Messenger or Yahoo! Messenger? Why not both?

I have been an IM user since around 1999, when Yahoo! Messenger first came out. Since then, I’ve added AIM and Windows Live Messenger. As instant messegng became an integrated part of my personal and professional life, the one thing that has always bothered me was that I needed 3 IM clients, one for each service.

There are several third-party IM clients, such as Jabber and Trillian, that federate the main IM services. The problem I have with these clients is that I need to sign up with them, which gives me yet another user ID floating around (I already have way too many of them, I don’t really want more), they don’t offer the same level of functionality as the major 3, or they aren’t free. The last one is a big deal for me as I think IM services, just like the Internet, should be free.

All of that has finally changed. Thanks to a partnership between Yahoo! and Microsoft, I can finally slim down to just two IM clients. (It’s a start, right.) Wndows Live Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger can now communicate with each other. Finally, I can use the IM client that I like the most and still keep my contacts on the other service.

This works out great for me. Over the years I have become a Microsoft convert and actually like the Windows Live Messenger interface a little better than Yahoo! Messenger. (This wasn’t always the case, I preferred Yahoo! Messenger up until about 2 years ago.) I think a large part of the conversion was that I have 3 times the number of Live Messenger contacts as Yahoo! contacts.

There are a few things that I don’t like about the new integration. If I have a contact that has both IM services, I have to create separate contacts for each service. There should be a way to tie both IM services together to one contact and see which service is “on” at the time. You also can’t tell who’s on which service unless you view the contact card. Other than that, so far, I like it a lot.

In order to share contacts like this you will need either the latest Windows Live Messenger client or the Yahoo! Messenger with Voice 8 beta.

Now we just have to wait for AOL to get the picture and strike a similar deal.