Yahoo Takes On Skype with Messenger 7

Yahoo on Monday officially released version 7 of its popular Yahoo! Messenger that will enables users to both search the Web and make telephone calls without leaving the client. Analysts say the new release is aimed at attracting and retaining a youthful user base for Yahoo's IM network.

A beta release of the new version first debuted in May.

The client has been renamed Yahoo! Messenger with Voice to highlight new focus on PC-to-PC calling. Users will be able to make phone calls between computers, but the initial version will not allow calls to standard landline phones. Skype offers the later functionality for a fee.

Voice has become the watchword of instant messaging and AOL, MSN and Yahoo are continuing to improve their voice capabilities to ensure they stay ahead of popular voice-based messaging clients such as Skype, which counted 100 million downloads as of mid-April.

Also included in Yahoo! Messenger 7 is a feature called LiveWords, where users can highlight IM text and receive search results based on that selection. Such a feature was first introduced by Microsoft as part of MSN Messenger 7 in April of this year.

Users will also be able to display search results in an IM conversation, as well as search directly from the Yahoo messaging client.

The new release is available in 18 localized versions outside of the U.S. and Yahoo says that millions of its users have downloaded and testing the beta version of its client with voice capabilities.

Yahoo! Messenger 7 is available for download via FileForum.

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