Yahoo Opens IM to Developers

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Windows Live Messenger speeds out of beta

Yahoo Messenger, with 60 million worldwide users, just got a lot more interesting. Today at 6pm PST Yahoo is launching Yahoo Messenger 8.0 for Windows PCs and releasing a software development kit to allow third parties to create content plugins that users can add to their Yahoo IM. Plugins can be built using javascript, flash, or both.

There are two categories of plugins. Conversation Plugins interact with the chat environment itself. For example, with the event finder plugin, two people chatting can bring up a Yahoo map and find pegged restaurantes, venues, etc. to discuss them. Another plugin that I saw demo’d was the “avatars space” where users can interact in a virtual environment using avatars, pull in flickr photos and othe props, etc. The other type of plugins, Personal Plugins, pull content directly into the IM client itself. Users can add news, Yahoo 360, calendar plugins, etc. The idea is to pull core web services into the IM client, avoiding the need to open a browser.

The SDK can be accessed at developer.yahoo.com/messenger after 6 pm. Completed plugins are showcased at gallery.yahoo.com/messenger.

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