The MSN network of Internet services has introduced updates to its free communication services in an effort to make email, instant messaging, and online sharing easier and more personal for consumers. The updates include a beta version of MSN Spaces, a new blogging service that enables consumers to create their own personal place on the Web, as well as a beta version of MSN Messenger 7.0, updates to MSN Hotmail, and deeper integration among the services to enable more compelling communications experiences for consumers.
The MSN Spaces beta version is a free service available in 14 languages. MSN Spaces was designed to make it easy for consumers to create and maintain a personal Web site. MSN Spaces is a dynamic online scrapbook where consumers can share photo albums, personal music lists, and more. MSN Spaces will also automatically notify online contacts when a person's Space has been updated so his or her online community knows when it is time to pay a visit. People can sign up for MSN Spaces through MSN Messenger. Features of the service include: three levels of permissions--public, MSN Messenger contacts only, or private; users can display pictures via a photo album slide show and can share playlists through their Space with Microsoft Windows Media technologies; Contact Cards, a new addition to MSN Messenger and Hotmail, are windows into a consumer's Space, mirroring its look and the most recent information posted; RSS support, so consumers can publish their Space to others by way of RSS viewers and aggregators; consumers can post updates to their Space remotely via email or a mobile phone; and fifteen custom backgrounds and five layout templates for customization and personalization.
Available in 26 languages, the public beta release of MSN Messenger builds on the IM service and offers consumers new ways to express themselves online and personalize their instant messaging experience. Available for download, the beta release of MSN Messenger is intended to give consumers a taste of what's to come with the final release, expected next year. Features in the MSN Messenger 7.0 beta enable consumers to reach out to friends and family by sending a "Nudge," an alert that shakes the contact's conversation window with an audible notification, or a "Wink," animated pictures that include sound and that can be virtually "thrown" onto the screen of a contact's Internet message (IM) window. New emoticons, backgrounds, and theme packs from Microsoft Corp., including advertiser-sponsored packs such as for "Halo 2," are also available out the experience. Through integration with MSN Messenger, consumers can also automatically let their contacts know that they have updated their MSN Space. The MSN Messenger Contact icon "gleams" when an update is made, notifying others to visit the Space via the Contact Card. The beta release of MSN Messenger gives consumers more control over how they're seen online by enabling them to choose their availability status before logging into Messenger.
MSN Hotmail, a free Web email system, rounds out the trio of integrated communication services. MSN Hotmail recently introduced 250MB inboxes to new consumers in nine markets and launched a photo upload tool for all consumers to make it easier for them to share pictures online. The beta versions of MSN Spaces and MSN Messenger help give consumers even more ways to communicate and share through MSN Hotmail, including: View online status anywhere--through integration between MSN Hotmail and MSN Web Messenger, in select markets, consumers are able to see Messenger availability status even on PCs that don't have MSN Messenger client software; Learn more about Contacts--MSN Hotmail consumers who have an MSN Spaces site will have a Contact Card visible in the Hotmail address book, providing friends, family, and other online contacts with one-click access to their Spaces site.