Microsoft and eight European mobile operators have extended Instant Messenger to mobile phones so that users can keep receiving messages even when they're not logged on to their PC.
Messages sent from a PC to a user who is offline will automatically be forwarded to the user's mobile phone in the form of a short text message.
Replies from a mobile phone will land back in the Instant Messenger dialogue box on the computer. Mobile phone users will be charged per message received or sent.
Although the UK has opted out of the service, operators in Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Turkey and Norway, with a combined total of 31 million customers, launched the service yesterday.
MSN Instant Messenger has 13 million users in Europe and 46 million worldwide, competing with AOL Instant Messenger whose users generate some 1.2 billion messages a day.
In Europe, MSN's Instant Messenger works on any cellphone used on any network and is the second MSN service after Hotmail which is being offered by wireless operators KPN Mobile Netherlands, Belgium's Proximus, Denmark's TDC Mobile, Switzerland's Swisscom and TDC-owned Sunrise, Austria's ONE/Connect, Norway's Telenor and Turkey's Turkcell.
Mobile operator T-Mobile, owned by Deutsche Telekom and one of the largest operators in Europe, told Reuters that it plans to bring the two MSN services to its customers before the year-end.
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