Yahoo has launched a new browser-based version of its Messenger instant messaging service, so that users can access their accounts without needing the PC application on the machine they're using.

Yahoo Web Messenger can be accessed Yahoo's site and doesn't require any software downloads.

The service will come in handy for Yahoo Messenger users who travel a lot or who live in countries where PC penetration is low, said Yahoo spokeswoman Terrell Karlsten.

On Thursday, Yahoo will launch the service in the US, Brazil, India, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. A broader rollout will follow.

Years ago, Yahoo had a web-based version of Yahoo Messenger that was built on Java, but it phased it out, she said. This new service was built using Adobe's Flash, so it's able to provide "rich internet experiences" to users, she said.

In order to keep the application ‘lite’, Yahoo Web Messenger packs the key IM features of the PC version but lacks other advanced capabilities, like webcam video transmission, file transfers and voice communications, she said.

On the other hand, Yahoo Web Messenger has some features that the PC version doesn't have, like tabbed chat windows and the ability to save conversations on Yahoo servers, where the subscriber can access them and search their text later.

Like the PC version, Yahoo Web Messenger is compatible with Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger, so users from each service can engage in IM text chats.

AOL and Microsoft both provide web-based versions of their respective IM services.