Why you can trust ZDNET
:ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission.Our process
'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?
ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.
When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.
ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.
Version 3.0 of Yahoo!'s Messenger(Download) instant-messaging client includes new features like voice chat, online conversations, and better integration between Messenger and Yahoo!'s calendar and auction services. Although it's not as popular as AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger is a worthy challenger.
We found Messenger's voice chat relatively simple to use. We just right-clicked on the name of one of the people on our list of friends and selected the voice chat option. A window popped up and connected us to a voice chat server, letting us begin our conversation. The chat feature is full-duplex, allowing you to talk and listen at the same time.
The sound quality was fairly good over our DSL connection, although understandably it was not quite as good as with a regular telephone connection. Still, considering that the service is free—unlike the telephone—voice quality was more than acceptable.
One of Messenger's strong points has always been its integration into Yahoo!'s vast array of services. That integration has just gotten tighter with new tabs that add Yahoo! Auctions and Yahoo! Calendar to Messenger's interface. These tabs are completely optional—if you don't use either of those services you don't need to keep them available in Messenger.
Yahoo! hasn't stopped there though, as it integrates instant messaging directly into its content, a service called Conversations. For example, anyone reading a news story on Yahoo! can click on the Conversation link to start a conversation. Anyone who has Messenger installed and running can choose to contact the person who started the conversation instantly, thus beginning an exchange based on the news story.
Messenger users can also find existing conversations by visiting the Conversations directory page, where conversations are broken down by category and topic. This is a bold and interesting use of instant messaging to build a context-based community: providing the immediate, real-time conversation of a chat room while also offering a private environment in which the exchange can occur.
Messenger now features notification messages that alert you to the presence of a friend online and to new e-mail. Thankfully, these messages are not too intrusive; we had the option of turning them off in our Preferences settings.
Yahoo! has done a good job with this release. If you're a current Yahoo! Messenger user, this upgrade is a no-brainer. If you're still shopping around for an instant messaging service, be sure to check it out.
Product: Yahoo! Messenger 3.0 Rating: Price: Free download Requires: Yahoo! Account; Netscape Navigator 3.0 or Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 or later; Microsoft Windows 95, 98, or NT Company: Yahoo! Inc.; http://messenger.yahoo.com/