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Yahoo Web-ifies its chat application

Yahoo Messenger for the Web will let people chat with friends on any browser and any Internet-connected computer.

Yahoo is set to release late Wednesday a new Web-based version of its instant-messaging application that lets people use Yahoo Messenger on any browser and any Internet-connected computer rather than having to download it to a hard drive.

Yahoo Messenger for the Web allows people to check their instant messages and access their buddy list from anywhere, which could prove useful for those who are traveling or are forbidden from downloading client software to their computers at work.

The Web version of the chat application offers functions that the downloaded version does not, such as the ability to search current and archived messages from any computer. It also lets users maintain multiple conversations in one window with different tabs instead of opening up chats in multiple windows.

A Yahoo representative said Yahoo is looking at integrating Web-based instant messaging in games, Yahoo Answers and other forums where people could use real-time communication. Yahoo Messenger for the Web is interoperable with Windows Live Messenger. It is being launched initially in Brazil, India, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and the United States, and is available in English, Portuguese, Vietnamese and traditional Chinese.

Yahoo rivals Google, Microsoft and AOL already have Web-based versions of their instant-message applications with Gmail, which launched in 2004, MSN Web Messenger and AIM Express, respectively.