Yahoo will announce later today that it is adding video to its instant messenger service so that people using it will be able to see as well as chat with other IM users by means of web cameras, a company source said.
The IM service works with webcams made by Logitech and has been offered on a trial basis for the past three weeks on the Yahoo website.
In order for people to see each other in real time over the web, those on both ends of the connection must be registered Yahoo IM users, be running Microsoft's Windows 95, NT, or 98 operating systems, have a Logitech QuickCam and download the 'Start My Webcam' software provided for free on the site.
Yahoo's IM is under heavy competition from Microsoft - which is planning to embed its IM software in the Windows XP operating system, to be released 25 October - and the dominant player in the IM market, AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM).
According to study by research company IDC released earlier this month, the number of corporate users of instant messaging systems will grow from 18.3 million in 2001 to 229m in 2005. That number has almost tripled since last year, though corporate use still lags behind the 132m individuals now using IM.
IDC is a member of the IDG Communications group of companies, as is PC Advisor.