Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Yahoo Finally Unveils Its Showcase Vista App

They say late is better than never. But is late worth the wait? That's the question for Yahoo, which late last night released a preview of its instant messenger client for Windows Vista.

The wait has been a long one. Yahoo showed off the IM client back in January during the Consumer Electronics Show.

Yahoo's belated IM client taps into Windows Vista technologies, including WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation). Yahoo Messenger for Vista is a real showcase of WPF capabilities. The visuals are stunning, with elements resizing and repositioning smoothly and beautifully. Finally, from seeing Yahoo Messenger for Vista in action, I can see some of the vector-based benefits promised for the operating system.

Yahoo Messenger for Vista

End users can drag and drop conversations to consolidate them into single views or even place buddy windows onto the Vista Sidebar, to keep watch over conversations. End users also can drag-and-drop files up to 2GB and send them via IM.

The IM client is a preview, and it's not feature complete. I downloaded the software around 11:15 pm EST last night. There are definitely rough edges and not as many features as I had hoped for. But the visuals are slick for sure.

Federation disappoints. While users can send IMs between the Windows Live and Yahoo networks, basics like buddy icons and many emoticons aren't supported. Also, the preview client lacks features regular Yahoo IM users would come to expect in the standard 8.1 version for Windows.

Yahoo still has work yet to do, but at least the developer is doing the work. I can't say the same for Microsoft.

Microsoft already is testing Windows Messenger 9, which by all indications won't tap into WPF, at least not anything like what Yahoo's messenger does. The question: Why the hell not? If anybody should be developing showcase Windows Vista applications, it should be Microsoft. If WPF is so great, then show us the money, Microsoft.

Microsoft would do better for itself and its developers by setting an example. There should be at least a dozen Microsoft applications that really tap into Vista capabilities, starting with WPF. Yahoo shouldn't be the development leader here.

Yahoo is a slow leader, at that. I asked for clarification on what took so long from the January announcement to the December preview and got an e-mail response from Josh Jacobson, senior product manger for Yahoo Messenger for Vista. "We've spent a lot of time optimizing WPF as it continues to evolve," he said.

Yahoo Messenger for Vista

Jacobson is right when he says that, "Our engineers and developers are pioneers in this area, and are pushing the technology in new directions and sharing best practices that others in the industry can learn from."

But shouldn't that be Microsoft's role, on its own freakin' operating system?