RealTime IT News

MSN Goes Web Messaging

Microsoft's MSN unit has beefed up its Internet offerings by rolling out a Web-based version of its popular instant messenger and a blogging service in Japan.

Basking in the glow of a second successive profitable quarter, MSN announced the launch of MSN Web Messenger beta in five major markets and a blog publishing service in Japan that will compete head-to-head with Google's Blogger and Six Apart's TypePad.

With the launch of a browser-based IM tool, Microsoft is targeting the user who may be in a location without the MSN Messenger installed. Instant messaging rivals Yahoo and American Online both offer Web-based IM services.

MSN has initially launched the Web Messenger beta in the United States, U.K., France, Germany and Japan to allow users to log into the MSN Messenger with existing MSN Messenger accounts.

The service works with most major Web browsers that have pop-up blocking turned off.

In a separate deal with Verizon Wireless, MSN plans to hawk an IM and e-mail service on Verizon's "Get it Now" mobile phone service. Microsoft said the MSN Mobile service would be available on three cell phones for $2.49 per month for the first three months. After that, the price goes up to $2.99 a month.

MSN Mobile allows paying users to access Hotmail and MSN Messenger accounts. It features a personalized alerts service to let users receive notifications about e-mail messages, even when they are offline. The mobile IM service supports simultaneous and multi-party IM conversations.

Microsoft plans to issue a major upgrade to the text-chat tool next year to add personalized features like avatars and skins. MSN Messenger counts more than 300 million active users worldwide.