Microsoft and Yahoo’s Messenger users will be able to chat to each other across their networks from Thursday.
The companies are creating the world’s largest consumer instant messaging community, with nearly 350m accounts, although not everyone would be able to use the service right away as testing continued, they said.
Instant messaging software, which includes text messaging, file sharing, voice conversations and video chats, has proved enormously popular with computer users but has suffered from a lack of interoperability between systems.
Users of AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft, Google and Skype software have been unable to chat with one another.
“This marks a big breakthrough and an unprecedented technical achievement. We expect this to grow demand and adoption of IM globally,” said Brad Garlinghouse, communications senior vice-president at Yahoo.
“We believe this is a turning point for the IM industry,” added Blake Irving, corporate vice-president of Windows Live Platform at Microsoft.
“With the knowledge we now have, we will explore interoperability with other IM communities.”
The interoperability will work for users with the latest versions of the Windows and Yahoo Messenger programs.
They will be able to exchange text messages, see friends’ online presence, view personal status messages, share some emoticons and add new contacts from either service.
Both companies ann-ounced the landmark deal nine months ago.
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