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MSN, Vodafone Entwine IM Systems

Microsoft's MSN and Vodafone plan to enable seamless instant messaging between PCs and mobile phones, the companies said this week.

Users of MSN Messenger for the PC and Vodafone Messenger for the phone will be able to see whether their contacts are available and exchange messages.

MSN customers will have to buy the special messaging package from MSN, while Vodafone customers will either prepay or pay as they go, with charges appearing in their monthly bills. The service will use the "calling party pays model," so only the person who initiates the IM has to pay.

The service bridges the simple messaging service (SMS) used to send text messages on phones and the IM application for the PC.

"We have brought together two of the world's largest messaging communities with a first-of-its-kind for both industries -- a seamless PC-to-mobile instant messaging service. Vodafone customers will now be able to use IM and its additional service benefits to stay in touch with mobile and PC friends and family," Peter Bamford, chief marketing officer for Vodafone, said in a statement.

He added that the agreement was meant to grow the use of IM and SMS among Vodafone's customer base, leading to more revenue. MSN and Vodafone plan to launch the enhanced messaging service in several European countries before the end of the year.