REDMOND, Wash., Sept. 14, 1999 — When it comes to chatting with friends, Tony Coppoletta rarely picks up the phone anymore. Nor does he send e-mail. In recent months, Coppoletta has increasingly turned to MSN Messenger Service, Microsoft’s new instant messaging service that enables users to hold private conversations over the Web.
“When it came out in July, the first thing I did was download a copy and install it,”
said Coppoletta, a self-employed Web designer in Chicago.
“I find it really useful and easy to use, and a lot of people I talk to are already using the service.”
MSN Messenger Service is less intrusive than a phone call, Coppoletta said, because messages pop up in a window on the computer screen, and people don’t have to drop everything they’re doing to hold a conversation. And it’s quicker than e-mail because people know when their friends are online and can count on quick responses to their messages.
“E-mail isn’t as efficient for having a quick conversation because you don’t know for sure when the person gets your message, and you don’t know exactly when the person’s going to reply,”
“With instant messaging, there’s no wait. You know when somebody’s online and you get an answer back right away.”
Coppoletta is one of nearly 2.5 million people using MSN Messenger Service to hold
conversations with friends, family and colleagues over the Web. Today, Microsoft announced it will bring MSN Messenger to even more users by making versions of the software available to users of Windows CE, WebTV, and the Macintosh platform. In addition, Microsoft will make it possible for cell phone users to receive instant messages by integrating MSN Messenger with MSN Mobile Service, Microsoft’s wireless information service launched in June.
“Because MSN Messenger will be available on various platforms, I’ll be able to instant message with my parents on WebTV and my brother on his Macintosh at school,”
said Deanna Sanford, Microsoft’s lead product manager for MSN.
Instant messaging has become one of the fastest growing online communications medium. A cross between a phone call and an e-mail message, an instant message allows Internet users to find which of their contacts are online and hold conversations by typing messages that instantaneously pop up on the recipient’s computer screen.
Microsoft’s MSN Messenger Service instant messaging software, released in late July, allows people to send messages to other users of MSN Messenger as well as AOL Instant Messenger users. The service automatically notifies them when one of their contacts comes online, when they receive new Hotmail messages, and enables users to set online status, control who sees them online and who can send them instant messages. The number of unique MSN Messenger users skyrocketed from 200,000 in the first six days to nearly 2.5 million within two months of its release.
By extending MSN Messenger Service to a greater number of platforms, Microsoft is taking another step toward making communication universally accessible to consumers.
“Our goal for MSN is to provide people with information and the ability to communicate anytime, anywhere, from any device,”
“I should be able to stay in touch whether I’m using my desktop PC, Windows CE device, WebTV, Macintosh, or wireless device.”
To make instant messaging a more viable communication medium, Microsoft has been actively working with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and the rest of the industry to develop a standard protocol. An industry standard will enable different instant messaging services to work together, making it possible for consumers to freely and openly communicate on the Internet.
“Instant messaging will really take off when there’s an industry standard and it becomes more ubiquitous, just like e-mail and the telephone are today,”
Already, Microsoft has enabled Windows consumers to use instant messaging for a variety of purposes by integrating MSN Messenger Service with several applications, Sanford said. People can launch MSN Messenger Service directly from the Internet Explorer 5 browser, see online status of contacts from within Outlook Express 5, invite other MSN Messenger Service user to play a multi-player DirectX game or initiate a NetMeeting to hold a voice or video conference with several people over the Internet.
The possibilities for instant messaging are just starting to emerge, Sanford said. The uses of this communications medium will expand greatly, she predicted, as Microsoft and other companies identify new ways to integrate instant messaging with other applications.
“Instant messaging and MSN Messenger will continue to advance and integrate even more with people’s favorite communication tools on the Web,”
Coppoletta, the Chicago-based instant messaging user, said he’s impressed with the communication opportunities MSN Messenger already provides.
“Instant messaging makes it that much easier to have a private conversation without having to do the e-mail ping-pong thing,”
“E-mail was amazing when it first became something that everyone was using. And finally we’ve gotten to that next step of getting communication across more instantly.”