It would seem that Microsoft and Yahoo! have decided to work together and create an inter-operable messaging platform that will support both the Microsoft Live Messenger and Yahoo Instant Messanger clients and protocols, and combining their separate user-bases into one that is close to 350 million users strong, easily eclipsing the 100 million that Skype boasts.
With a clear road map to VoIP services and to adding IM services to mobile phones, both of which Yahoo!’s service already offers via it’s service, as well as the ability to make PC to PSTN calls via Yahoo!’s “Phone Out” service, it’s clear that the target is being drawn squarely on Skype. It will be interesting to see if the security aspect of Skype’s closed product approach or the apparent lack of strong encryption in the Microsoft or Yahoo! protocols (at least in their default configurations) will play any part in the upcoming shootout for subscribers.
The new unified platform is currently in beta and is available for trial.