MSN plans to enhance the video and audio capabilities in its instant messaging service this spring so that users can speak with their contacts over the Internet.
The Internet division of Microsoft Corp. Wednesday extended a partnership with Logitech International SA for the video and audio capabilities in MSN Messenger. The companies announced the new features at the CeBIT show in Hannover, Germany.
MSN, though, stopped short of revealing any plans to compete directly in the rapidly expanding consumer voice-over-IP market. Top IM competitor America Online Inc. this week confirmed plans for an Internet phone service using its AOL Instant Messenger.
Meanwhile, the poster child for the new wave of Internet telephony, Skype Technologies SA, made its presence known at CeBIT. Niklas Zennström, the companys CEO and co-founder, said Skype is signing up 155,000 users a day.
MSN Messenger already has a Webcam feature and provides some audio capabilities, but users must initiate video and audio sessions separately, an MSN spokesperson said. With Version 7.0 of the IM service, MSN and Logitech will provide higher-quality video and audio, and synchronize them so users can more easily begin and conduct video and audio sessions.
The video and audio features are specifically targeted for use among MSN Messenger users, the spokesperson said.
The improvements are expected to be available in the spring with the launch of MSN Messenger 7.0, which is currently in beta.
"The new capabilities were delivering with MSN will remove barriers that in the past have prevented widespread consumer use of video and audio communications," said Junien Labrousse, senior vice president of Logitechs video business unit, in a statement.
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