Most web workers couldn’t live without their instant messages. Yahoo! is trying to push the state of the art along a bit with the beta release of version 9.0 of Yahoo! Messenger. Though this is a pretty mature software category, they’ve still found a few things to add. For one, it’s easier than ever to import contacts from elsewhere – you can pull them in from Gmail, Hotmail, Orkut, and more. We may not have data portability yet, but everyone is getting better at swiping contacts from everyone else. For another, Yahoo is tying in some of their other services: if a friend uses Yahoo! Buzz, for example, you get a notification in your list.
But many web workers are probably in the same boat I am: contacts scattered all over half a dozen IM backbones. From my point of view, updates to the individual clients are interesting but not useful; I’d go nuts if I wasn’t using a unified client like Adium, Trillian, or Miranda. If you’re in a Yahoo-only world, the new beta seems reasonably stable and adds a nice feature jolt, though it’s currently only available for Windows.