MSN acquires MessageCast to expand alerts service

MSN has bought messaging and content technology developer MessageCast as part of its ongoing attempts to add new features to its messaging services.

MSN has bought MessageCast in a move that will give MSN Messenger more access to MessageCast's technologies and will help expand MSN alert services to new content channels, Microsoft announced Wednesday.

The price was not announced.

MessageCast develops broadcast messaging systems that work with real-time networks and RSS (really simple syndication) content feeds, and its technology notifies customers about information services, blog and podcast updates, and updates to MSN's alert service.

MSN has worked with MessageCast since 2003 on developing MSN alerts services to customers. Such alerts are available in the U.S. and several European and Asian countries and can be delivered via MSN Messenger, Microsoft Windows Messenger, e-mail and text messaging on mobile devices compatible with the MSN Mobile, according to Microsoft.

The acquisition was announced the same day as Microsoft said it had formed a joint venture with Shanghai Alliance Investment to launch MSN mobile products with more local content in China.

Microsoft has already added several new services to MSN this year.

In February, the company launched MSN Search, which allows users to search both Web sites and content from Microsoft's Encarta encyclopedia and MSN Music. Until this service was launched, MSN had previously relied on search technology from rival Yahoo.

In March, Microsoft then started its MSN Video Downloads mobile video download service, allowing subscribers to watch videos from partners such as CinemaNow, MSNBC.com and TiVo, on portable devices.

And in April, Microsoft released MSN Messenger 7.0, which offers free PC-to-PC video calls for users with a webcam in addition to free voice calls. Also in April, it launched the MSN Spaces service, an online scrapbook function that lets users post blogs, photo albums, music lists and other personalized information.

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