Microsoft tests Web-based IM

Microsoft is testing a Web-based MSN Messenger client that will allow users to connect to the instant messaging (IM) service without the need to install a client application.

A Web-based client can be useful when installing the full client is not possible. This could be on a public computer in a library, at school or at a conference or when using a locked-down corporate system, for example.

Web-based instant messaging is not new. America Online (AOL) has long offered AIM Express, a Web client for its AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). Also, several third-party Web sites offer Web-based access to various instant messaging services, including MSN Messenger.

The full version of MSN Web Messenger will be released later this year, according to the test Web site. Microsoft is soliciting feedback from testers. The test Web site only allows limited connections and on Monday appeared to be getting a lot of visitors because it would not allow connections to the MSN Messenger service at all.

Later on Monday Microsoft removed the public test Web site, limiting the beta to an internal test only. "The site post is part of our testing process. MSN is still testing the product and has nothing to announce regarding future implementation or testing result," a Microsoft spokeswoman said.

The beta version of MSN Web Messenger requires Internet Explorer 5.0, Netscape 7.0, Mozilla 1.6 or newer versions of any of these Web browsers. Users also must disable pop-up blocking and have a Microsoft Passport account, according to the test Web site.

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