ICQ offers Web-browser based, Mac versions

ICQ, a subsidiary of America Online Inc. (AOL), is offering a new version of its instant messaging service that allows users to send messages from any Web browser, rather than just from the host PC where an ICQ client has been installed. ICQ is also offering an updated version for Apple Computer Inc.'s Macintosh platform.

The browser version, ICQ Lite, is accessible via the Web site http://lite.icq.com, the company said in a statement. Users logging in there can send instant messages, access their contact lists, and send SMS (short message service) text messages to mobile phones.

The new Mac version, ICQ 3.0X, is the first version of ICQ that works on the new Mac OS X operating system, as well as on the Mac OS "Classic" versions 8.6 and higher, ICQ said. It includes new features such as contact lists that are stored on the ICQ server rather than on the user's desktop machine, allowing users to access them from remote browsers.

ICQ, one of the earliest instant-messaging providers, was founded in 1996 and bought by AOL in 1998. It has over 115 million registered users worldwide, the company said.

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