MSN China Launches Twitter-like Service

Microsoft confirmed the debut of a microblogging service somewhat similar to Twitter in China on Tuesday. However, because the service was launched in China, U.S.-based Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) spokespersons had little information that they could provide regarding the service.

The service is through MSN China, a joint venture between Microsoft’s MSN service and Shanghai Alliance Investment Ltd. It was formed in May 2005.

“Today, MSN China launched MSN Juku, a new service that lets customers post 140-character messages to an update screen that slowly scrolls old messages,” a Microsoft spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. The service is still in beta test.

In the e-mail, the Microsoft spokesperson in the U.S. downplayed the idea that Juku is a microblogging service similar to the smash hit Twitter, despite the similar function and 140 character message limit.

“This service was developed by the MSN China team and is only available in the Chinese market,” the U.S.-based spokesperson added.

While Microsoft’s intent with Juku is not clear, at least some of the motivation in its statements may be directed toward not alarming its recent partner – Twitter.

In October, Microsoft signed a deal with Twitter to enable the software giant’s new Bing search service to pull in real-time “tweets.”

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