MSN portal, Hotmail for European mobile users

Microsoft Corp. has launched a version of its MSN Internet portal for European mobile device users, and is offering access to its Hotmail Web-based e-mail service over cell phones, it said Wednesday.

French and German versions of the MSN home page, news and sport channels, plus instant messaging and e-mail services Messenger and Hotmail can be accessed from mobile devices, Vassili le Moigne, Microsoft's strategic development manager for MSN EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa) said. A U.K. version of the site will be available soon, he said.

Any mobile device with Internet access will be able to access the portal pages, le Moigne said, but he admitted that those using operating systems other than Pocket PC 2002, such as Palm operating system-based devices, "may not display it too well." Microsoft has no plans to redesign the site to make it display well over all devices, he said.

Access to Hotmail via SMS (short message service) has been available in Switzerland and Denmark since last Dec. 23, le Moigne said, through Microsoft's partner Migway A\S. In its first month of operation, the service generated an average of 27 text messages per user, le Moigne said. Users pay standard text message charges for both the messages they send and those they receive.

Users specify e-mail addresses from which they agree to receive SMS e-mail. They will then be able to read and reply to any messages from those addresses, le Moigne said. This will protect them against spam and unwanted SMS messaging, he said.

The service will be expanded across Europe as soon as agreements are reached with carriers, le Moigne said.

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