Yahoo Debuts Beta Version of Messenger

Yahoo launched a new beta version of its Yahoo Messenger yesterday, a week after America Online said it was revamping its AOL Instant Messenger service to let users retrieve voice mail, e-mail and instant messages from any computer.

The new Yahoo Messenger offers similar services, letting users make free worldwide PC-to-PC calls, share photographs and other expanded "community" services. It also has expanded Web search options and spam protection on IM. For the first time, users can report spam or unsolicited IM messages to Yahoo via its SpamGuard program.

In the new version, Yahoo also increased emphasis on Web searches. A search field appears in the conversation window to easily retrieve relevant Web search information from Yahoo Search. And users have access to a "personal search engine," letting them create their own archive by saving their favorite pages, search results and search history.

Yahoo also enhanced its voice service to let consumers call anywhere in the world for free and added voicemail features. In addition, Yahoo said the new Messenger includes tools to expand and foster communities. Users easily can find, add to and share their friends' lists. And the beta version is integrated with Yahoo 360, a community product that helps people stay connected and share content.

Users also can choose to display the Yahoo Buzz Index and Entertainment Tonight content tabs in their IM windows.

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