Stupid instant message tricks on a Friday morning. If you use Windows Live Messenger, which is Microsoft’s latest rebranding of Windows Messenger, you may not be aware that it’s now possible to use it to talk with people using Yahoo! Messenger. Microsoft and Yahoo mentioned their intention to start allowing for cross-network chatting awhile back, but I didn’t realize they’d put it into effect already until this morning when I got a help desk ticket from one of our users asking what proxy settings he needed to be able to use both clients on his laptop. That’s when I remembered about the plans to let the two systems talk to each other so I decided to see if it were possible yet as that would eliminate the need for him to install two different programs
Now I already had Windows Live Messenger installed on my work machine because I actually do use it quite a bit, but I hadn’t tried Yahoo! Messenger through our proxy so I downloaded and installed it as well just to see if I could get it to work, and it does. As soon as I logged into Yahoo I got a popup informing me that someone using Windows Live Messenger wanted to add me as a contact and that I needed to go sign up for the Yahoo Messenger Beta program to allow this to happen. That someone, as it turns out, was myself because I had tried adding my Yahoo contact into Windows Live Messenger back when I first installed WLM and then promptly forgot I had done that. Getting into the Yahoo beta program was just a matter of clicking the provided link and signing into my Yahoo account. A few moments later I got a popup in Yahoo Messenger asking me if I wanted to allow myself to add me as a contact to my WLM client. I considered my own character for a moment and then decided I was a nice enough fellow and approved the addition.
I was now faced with the very surreal situation of having myself as a contact in both Yahoo! Messenger and Windows Live Messenger. So I did what any good geek would do and tried chatting with myself and, what do you know, it worked, though there is a delay of 2 to 5 seconds as the message shoots from one service to the other. Occasionally the delay can be as long as 10 to 15 seconds and several features standard to both clients (voice chat, conference chat, webcam support, file transfers, etc.) aren’t working cross-network yet, but I imagine they’ll get around to enabling those things sooner or later. Smilies work back and forth with each client translating them into the closest representation they have available and even the “nudge” feature that’s become so annoyingly popular works.
AIM and ICQ have been allowing cross-network chatting for awhile now as well, but that’s less of an accomplishment considering both are own by AOL and it’s kinda stupid it took them so long to allow it in the first place. Just the same this means that any IM junkies out there now have the possibility of eliminating two of the four most popular IM clients without having to give up the ability to chat with their friends that use those clients. Of course if you use Trillian or another similar all-in-one client then it’s a moot point to begin with. Just the same this is a pretty cool development. Perhaps someday they’ll all talk to each other and we can just use whichever client we like best.