REDMOND, Wash., July 22, 1999 — With more than 90 million people worldwide regularly sending or receiving email, communication has established itself as the true cornerstone of the Internet. More recently, instant messaging has joined email as a prevalent communications tool, with more than 40 percent of people on the Web today currently using an instant messaging service to interact with their friends, family and colleagues. Instant messaging services give people the ability to know immediately which of their friends are online and then contact them for private, real-time chats.
Until this week, the proprietary nature of instant messaging client software meant that the only way for consumers to ensure they could communicate with all others who were using the medium was to run multiple instant messaging clients.
Interoperable with AOL Instant Messenger
With the launch of MSN Messenger Service, Microsoft has taken the first step in breaking down the barriers that have prevented people from interacting across different instant messaging client software. MSN Messenger Service gives people the ability to exchange online messages with users of AOL Instant Messenger, as well as the more than 40 million MSN Hotmail users. MSN Messenger Service’s user-friendly interface allows users to easily search for and add contacts from either MSN Hotmail or AOL Instant Messenger, and then seamlessly communicate with people on either service without having to run both applications.
“MSN Messenger Service is the first messaging application to offer the interoperability that people are demanding,” according to Brad Chase, vice president for Microsoft’s Consumer and Commerce Group.
MSN Messenger Service plans to support additional instant messaging services in the near future, as well as licensees of the MSN Communications platform and the instant messaging product that will be part of the next version of Microsoft Exchange.
Tight Integration with Other Web-based Communication Tools
MSN Messenger Service has been integrated with the MSN Hotmail email service in a multitude of ways. MSN Messenger Service and MSN Hotmail share the same user name and password, so logging into one communication service logs you into the other simultaneously. Additionally, MSN Messenger Service notifies people when they have new MSN Hotmail email messages, allows them to send email to contacts who are offline, and provides one-click access to their MSN Hotmail inbox.
MSN Messenger Service is also integrated with Microsoft’s award-winning email client, Microsoft Outlook Express 5.0, which allows people to simultaneously view their MSN Hotmail inbox and the online status of all their friends.
Beyond integrating with email, people also have one-click access to MSN Messenger Service from the Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 browser. The MSN Messenger Service icon is easily accessible as a “standard button” at the top of the browser’s user interface.
Additionally, MSN Messenger Service is integrated with other online collaborative services. Used in conjunction with Microsoft NetMeeting conferencing software, users can initiate impromptu voice and video conferencing with other MSN Messenger Service users. MSN Messenger Service users can also invite other MSN Messenger Service users to play games online if the game supports Microsoft DirectPlay API.
Strong Privacy Features
As instant messaging becomes increasingly popular, it is essential that a private and secure environment be afforded the people who use it. MSN Messenger Service builds upon the MSN Hotmail privacy infrastructure and policies, which include Microsoft’s commitment to protecting user privacy; allowing users to control their privacy settings; use of “strong” passwords; password encryption; and protection of the end user’s IP address.
MSN Messenger Service enables people both to control who can monitor their online status and to block instant messages from other users who become nuisances. Users have the option of explicitly authorizing each new MSN Messenger Service user who wants to add them to his or her contact list before their online “presence” information is revealed. Additionally, an “invisible mode” allows a user to appear to be offline even if they are actually online
Working for an Instant Messaging Standard
Microsoft and other leading Internet messaging companies have announced their continued support for the ratification of standard instant messaging protocols, which will enable people to use any messaging application to communicate with users of any other application.
Since 1997, Microsoft has maintained its commitment to support industry standards in instant messaging and has promised to do so in future versions of MSN Messenger Service. Microsoft has consistently led or participated in efforts to adopt instant messaging standards, believing that such standards will make messaging more ubiquitous and eliminate concerns from consumers and enterprise customers about the lack of interoperability between different client software.