Sunnyvale (CA) and Redmond (WA) - Some instant messaging addicts won't have to keep multiple chat programs for too much longer. Microsoft and Yahoo are testing new chat clients that let MSN Messenger and Yahoo Messenger users talk to each other. The combination would, according to Microsoft, form the largest instant messaging community and eclipsing the current king of the hill, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM).
Both Microsoft and Yahoo will release beta versions of Windows Live Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger with Voice. Users from both services will be able to chat to each other and also add people to their contact list. Currently only text chat will be supported and there is no word when voice communication will be added. Icons next to the users name will represent the native messaging service.
Microsoft and Yahoo originally announced their intentions to merge the user base back in October 2005. The beta clients are officially being released to the United States and residents of 15 other countries.
Back in March, Nielsen/Netratings estimated that AOL had 53 million instant messaging users compared to the 27 and 22 million that MSN and Yahoo respectively had.