Location: Hyderabad, India


Microsoft Targets Skype

Microsoft released an update to its MSN Messenger application today, offering improved video and voice calls in an effort to catch the eyes and ears of more Internet users. At the same time it launched a finished version of an online scrapbook service it has been testing, MSN Spaces, and rolled out new advertising opportunities.

The MSN updates are aimed at making the company's services more interactive, as it takes on challengers such as Internet telephony startup Skype Technologies. Skype has seen steady growth for its free PC-to-PC voice service, leading it to roll out PC-to-mobile-phone calls and messaging capabilities. Microsoft wants to get one step ahead with the release of its new MSN Messenger 7 instant messaging application, which, in addition to free voice calls, offers free PC-to-PC video calls for users with a Webcam. The video call feature uses technology from Webcam maker Logitech to synchronize audio and video streams. Users can watch a video in the Messenger window or get up close and personal in full-screen mode. Additionally, the company plans to incorporate a feature in coming months that will allow Messenger users to send messages to friends' mobile phones. Messenger 7, which has been in beta since December, also includes the ability to perform a search during a chat session and share photos.
Along with the new Messenger software, Microsoft's web logging service MSN Spaces has finally gone live. MS say more than 4.5 million "Spaces" have been created since its beta launch in late 2004. "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."


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