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Yahoo IM for Vista beta--now with voice calls

The Vista version of Yahoo Messenger 9 has moved from "preview" to "beta" and gets voice and SMS support. It's one of the few Vista-specific programs available.

Update 4:30 p.m. PT May 1: I corrected the download link and a reference to the Messenger 9 beta for Windows XP, a separate product from the Messenger for Vista beta.

Yahoo has released its Windows Vista beta of its instant-messaging software, adding support for voice chat and cell phone text messages that were missing from the preview version that's been out since December.

Yahoo's updated messenger program for Vista adds voice dialing as well as eye candy known as "Voice Visualizations." Yahoo

The Yahoo Messenger for Vista beta software supports computer-to-computer calls as well as calls to and from phones, Yahoo said Wednesday. It also can communicate with cell phone text messages sent with SMS (short message service) technology.

The software is available at Yahoo's download site.

The software is one of the few Vista-specific applications around, taking advantage of the graphics display abilities of the Windows Presentation Foundation underpinnings of Vista. My comrade Ina Fried was favorably impressed by the interface.

Other features in the version include vector-based graphics for better independence from variable monitor pixel sizes; a Windows Sidebar gadget version; integration with Yahoo address book; integration with Flickr for photo sharing; the ability to view videos and photos sent as Web page links in the chat window; customizable skins; tabbed conversations to cut down on window clutter. Why, I don't know, but I avoid tabbed IM windows even though I use tabbed browser Windows extensively. Go figure.