Yahoo’s latest beta of its messenger program literally kicks MSN Messengers out of the window for me. It has everything that MSN Messenger has to offer and more. MSN has funky skins? Yahoo has them now. MSN has user pictures? Yahoo has them now. MSN does animated smilies? Yahoo has been doing them since ages as far as I know. And what Yahoo Messenger has that MSN Messenger does not? Offline messages, chatrooms ( MSN no longer has free chatrooms), custom status messages and so on.
Heck, MSN Messenger doesn’t even allow you to have archives of the conversations for too long. Sometime back it told me to start a new archive file for a friend whom I talked pretty regularly. Apparently the size of the original XML was becoming too big for comfort for MSN. Yahoo! on the other hand has kept archives for me since almost a year with no apparent problems. Yahoo has a version for Linux (minimal compared to Windows version), MSN Messenger does not. This list can go on and on and on.
The new version adds more such exclusive features to Yahoo Messenger. They have introduced stealth mode. This enable you to decide who on your messenger list can see you and who cannot. Totally awesome. So they removed one of the shortcomings in my opinion. As MSN Messenger let you block a particular user even without removing him from your buddy list, Yahoo did not. Now you don’t have to block anyone (so you don’t miss any offline messages), you just disappear under the stealth mode.
The new skins though feel blah at first look but grow on you. I am pretty sure I will revert back to the original windows skin in 2-3 days or better return back to Gaim. But it sure make the messenger look hip for people who don’t know how to apply custom themes in there windows environment (especially Windows XP).
They have added new smilies (I am waiting for the new hidden ones!) and animated quiet a few old ones. Yahoo Messenger’s smilies have always been my favorite and new ones are damn pretty too! Animated smilies just make you smile when you first have a look at them.
I totally recommend giving the new beta a go. Though the only disadvantages I found in the latest beta are; it’s a beta! The new skins can be sluggish on slow computers and apparently they have removed shortcut menu to your favorite chatrooms. I can live with that!
For search engine buffs: Messenger window now has a search button that lets you search Yahoo! search engine from a popup window. Also, another interesting feature is that you can select any word in the chat window and search for it on Yahoo! search engine from the context menu. Just select the word you want to search for while chatting or messaging, right click it, then select “Search the web for ____________.” Pretty impressive.
Download: Yahoo Messenger Website
Sushubh Mittal is the Tech Columnist at Search Engine Journal and also the publisher of TechWhack, an upcoming Blog Portal on technology.