Hotmail Gets Web-based IM

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hotmail_IM.pngHotmail’s developers have announced that a web-based instant messenger (IM) client will be coming to Hotmail very soon. Based on the MSN client, it will likely function similarly to the Google IM in practice.

The new IM will become available to users in various countries first, coming to the U.S. last. So those in France, Italy, Japan, and others will see it long before the states do. Hotmail says they plan to have the new IM rolled out worldwide before the end of the year, so it’s coming soon to you wherever you are.

Those who are currently using Messenger will receive a popup notice that they’re logged into two chat clients at the same time and be required to make a choice: keep MSN running or close it in favor of the Hotmail client. The two chat services will share information and use the same services, and be virtually identical. For instance, your MSN contacts will still see you as “online” when you’re using the Hotmail client.

If you have multiple Windows Live accounts, you can use each client separately as well. Beta reports say that the two services are integrating well together and that the settings in one are porting to the other with few problems.

Some bugs still need to be fixed, however. Contacts in the new IM system are not listed by who’s online and available by default and this listing doesn’t seem to carry over. So if you resort your contacts list to display by who’s online, when you logout and come back, it won’t be that way automatically.  My favorite line of the day concerning this came from Tech Crunch’s Robin Wauters.  He said “We’ll say it right off the bat: what the hell took Microsoft so long?”

I guess I also agree with what Stephen Shankland of Cnet said…Now if only Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and Google would get together so I don’t have multiple, incompatible instant-messaging networks, then I’d be even happier.Overall, though, the European users who’ve already got this seem to be giving it the thumbs up.


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