Yahoo! Messenger Revamped for Version 6.0

Yahoo! has brushed the dust off of its popular Yahoo! Messenger instant messaging application, fully remodeling the software's aging interface while adding deeper integration with games, music and Yahoo! Search.

The release has the makings of an aggressive leap ahead for Yahoo!'s real time communication technology, and comes on the heels of product refreshes from rivals America Online, ICQ and MSN.

With the upgrade, Yahoo! has graduated Yahoo! Messenger to version 6.0 – the client's first major jump in digits since October 2001. A beta of the client puts entertainment features on par with the competition. Customers can now tune into LAUNCHcast Radio and occupy themselves with two-player games such as Chess, Checkers, Dominoes, Pearl Hunter, and Word Race.

In addition, gamers will have the ability to compete for high scores in single-player games, which are recorded in Messenger's new games tab. Games are launched from directly within the IM window. 

Like the competition, Yahoo! has brought self expression to the forefront of the user experience. Yahoo! Messenger 6.0 includes build-your-own avatars, more Yahoo! IMVironments, new emoticons, and verbal animations that express attitude and emotion called "audibles."

The release taps deeply into Yahoo!'s wealth of Web properties. The most obvious add-on is a Yahoo! Search field embedded into the client's interface. Yahoo! recently ditched Google in favor of its own homegrown algorithmic search engine technology.  Tight integration with Yahoo! Mail remains a key feature of the client, although much improved in version 6.0.

Mirroring Microsoft's MSN Messenger 6.2, Yahoo's installer provides users with the option of installing a browser toolbar and assigning themselves to the Yahoo! Internet homepage. Yahoo! has also borrowed a page from the AOL playbook with a new pop-up window.

Other noteworthy features include Yahoo!'s new "Stealth Mode" and address book.  Stealth Mode allows users to manage contacts so that they can now either appear to be on or offline to a specific friend or group of friends. The Yahoo! AddressBook searches, sorts and communicates with contacts all from within the client.

Commenting on the release, Lisa Pollock Mann, senior director of messaging products at Yahoo! said, "With this newest version of Yahoo! Messenger, we are changing the instant messaging landscape by introducing new ways for people to express, share, and manage, making instant messaging more essential to their lives.  By integrating unique features with compelling services from across our network, Yahoo! Messenger continues to enable powerful interactions between friends and family."

The beta release of Yahoo! Messenger 6.0 may be downloaded via FileForum.

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