Microsoft Debuts Messenger & Blog Services

From the press release:

New breakthroughs in video, voice and personalization features in MSN Messenger transform the service from being a quick way for people to keep in touch to being an essential life-sharing connection between friends and family. Integration between MSN Messenger, MSN Spaces and other MSN network services, including MSN Search, gives people a more flexible way to connect with others through instant messaging, Web logging (“blogging”), and sharing music lists and photos.

Over the past year MSN has seen consumers’ appetite for richer, personalized online communications services surge globally, as evidenced by the rapid growth of MSN Messenger and MSN Spaces. Since the MSN Spaces beta version was introduced in late 2004, more than 4.5 million Spaces have been created, making MSN Spaces one of the fastest-growing blogging services in the world. “People all over the world are spending more of their time communicating online and MSN is providing the services they use,” said Blake Irving, corporate vice president for the MSN Communication Services and Member Platform group at Microsoft Corp. “We continue to invest in services that create meaningful, personal and emotional connections for our customers, letting them express themselves in ways that suit them best.”

MSN Messenger Makes Instant Messaging More Dynamic Than Ever

Globally, more than 155 million customers rely on the MSN Messenger service each month to connect with their friends and family and, collectively, exchange more than 2.5 billion instant messages (IMs) every day. MSN Messenger 7.0 is available today worldwide in 26 languages and introduces improved video, voice and personalization features that allow people to communicate in more meaningful ways than ever. Available for download at http://messenger.msn.com/, MSN Messenger 7.0 has added new features since its December 2004 public beta release, including these:

  • Free PC-to-PC video conversation. The new, free MSN Video Conversation service,1 powered by Logitech technology, connects people with one-click synchronized audio and video, and offers full-screen video viewing – the next best thing to really being there.
  • Ability to talk over the Internet for free. MSN Messenger 7.0 includes higher-quality audio functionality so customers can enjoy free,2 real-time PC-to-PC voice conversations with friends and family around the world.
  • PC-to-mobile communications. Customers will soon be able to stay in touch by sending IMs to friends and family who aren’t on their PC. Customers in selected countries will be able to send SMS text messages from MSN Messenger to mobile phones – even if the person they are sending to doesn’t have an MSN Messenger account – and the mobile user can reply to the MSN Messenger user.3 This feature will be available in multiple markets this spring.
  • Greater personalization. New personalization options, including Winks, Dynamic Display Pictures and theme packs, help customers show their personality and their mood. Customers can choose from a selection of free content or get premium content from companies such as AG Interactive, the media subsidiary of American Greetings Corp., Wisepost/YNK, 3H Group PTY Ltd., Saw-you.com and Techno Design Internet Programming for a small fee.
  • Instant MSN Search capability. MSN Messenger 7.0 offers a Shared Search button in the conversation window so people can find answers instantly through MSN Search while they continue their conversation.
  • Photo-sharing options. Customers can have more fun with their friends by sharing photos during a conversation and viewing a slide show together. People can save shared photos and add pictures of their own to the photo swap session.
  • Unique presence options. People can now display a personal message alongside their Messenger name and status. The customized message can include a greeting that expresses their mood or show the name of a song the person is listening to on Windows Media® Player or iTunes Player. With one click, customers can go to MSN Music to purchase the song or listen to a snippet.

MSN Spaces Offers Consumers Easy Way to Connect and Share Photos, Music and More

With today’s launch, MSN Spaces, a blogging service, will now be available in 15 languages and 30 markets worldwide. While MSN Messenger enables people to connect in real time, MSN Spaces augments their IM relationship by enabling people to connect on their own time, letting friends and family know they have something new to share via “gleam” notifications on their MSN Messenger contact list. MSN Spaces is a dynamic online scrapbook where consumers can easily post blogs, photo albums, personal music lists and more, essentially telling the story of their life. Customers have control over whom they share their Space with: limiting it to a few, sharing only with those on their MSN Messenger contact list, or opening it up to the worldwide Internet. New features in the latest release of MSN Spaces, which is available through MSN Messenger or at http://spaces.msn.com/, include the following:

  • More space. MSN is boosting storage for free MSN Spaces so customers will have three times the space to share photos – approximately 750 of them.
  • Unique personalization options. The latest version of MSN Spaces introduces more than 50 new backgrounds so people can personalize their MSN Space.
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