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RealTime IT News

Microsoft Extends Messenger Service

Microsoft Corp. Tuesday extended its MSN Messenger Service to users of cellular phones and set-top boxes.

The company plans to bundle MSN Messenger with its MSN Mobile Service. Microsoft (MSFT) will also provide versions of MSN Messenger for the Windows CE operating system, the Microsoft WebTV Network and Macintosh platform.

With these service improvements Microsoft hopes to further its goal of making it possible for consumers to access information and communicate on the MSN Network of Internet services any time, place and device connected to the Net.

Also, users of MSN Messenger Service can hold real-time conversations and see when their friends are online.

"We want to make it easy for consumers to communicate the way they want," said Yusuf Mehdi, director of marketing of Microsoft's consumer and commerce group.

David Simons, managing director of Digital Video Investments, a New York-based institutional research firm, said Microsoft had been planning to bundle instant messaging across all its platforms as far back as 1997 but opted against it out of fears that such a move would raise anti-trust concerns.

"I think what you're seeing is just Microsoft picking up where it intended to start in 1997, and starting to expand this across its product line. I think It's inevitable that it makes it into Windows via Explorer."

While Microsoft's prowess as a software company will help it in any battle over features, Simons says AOL won't lag far behind.

"There's no question there will be an escalation of features as there is in everything, as there has been with e-mail software over the years," Simons said. "But, that will sort of be a baseline not a differentiator -- whatever one does the other will do in short order. And AOL in fact has a arguably better channel that distributes them because its got users that are coming on frequently and AOl can just automatically update thier software."

The MSN service is available here.