Yahoo Messenger 9.0By Joaquim P. Menezes –

There’s an entire slew of Instant Messaging tools out there, so what’s the big deal about an upgrade to an existing service – and a beta version at that.

The significance of Yahoo Social Messenger 9.0 beta – which launches today – isn’t just in its simpler and slicker user interface or cool new features.

9.0, it seems, represents Yahoo’s strenuous efforts to find its groove in social networking, something the company hasn’t been able to do very successfully so far.

Will Yahoo Messenger 9.0 provide a decisive answer to the likes of MySpace and Facebook.

Yahoo certainly hopes that will be the case, and in redesigning the application has focused on beefing up its social networking features.

For instance, Messenger 9.0 makes it very easy to initiate contact with friends and associates via various channels: just place your cursor on a contact on your list, and options for contacting them are displayed.

A single click then allows you to send a text message to IM and more. Clicking on the area next to the name displays the person’s entire contact card.

The service also adds a new group to the list – all of the Yahoo address book contacts. From this list, one is able to launch a call, email or text message a contact – or click Edit to view their full listing.

For those who have a lot of contacts, the Search bar on top helps one locate a contact by typing a contact’s name and phone number in the bar to quickly locate them.

The updated photo feature in Yahoo Messenger 9.0 offers better integration with Flickr.com – Yahoo’s photo sharing Web site.

One 9.0 feature being heavily promoted by Yahoo is the “inline media player.”

If you paste a link from a popular video site – such as YouTube or Yahoo Video – in the IM window allows you to watch the video within your IM window, instead of visiting a separate Web site (you would need to have copied the link first,

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