Microsoft Updates MSN Messenger for Mac

Version 4.0 of the instant-messaging client adds greater integration into the upcoming Office 2004 for Mac.

Microsoft Corp., just weeks away from shipping the next release of its Office suite for the Mac OS X, has launched a new version of its MSN Messenger instant-messaging client for Apple Computer Inc.s operating system.

The Redmond, Wash., software maker on Tuesday released MSN Messenger for Mac Version 4.0 with additional integration into its new Office 2004 for Mac, a new feature for stopping unwanted messages and improvements to file sharing and alerting.

The release for the Mac follows by about a week a new version of MSN Messenger for Windows. That new release, Version 6.2, focused on adding more online games to the IM service.

Some Mac users have complained that the features in the Mac version of MSN Messenger have lagged behind those in its Windows counterpart, going so far as to start an online petition drive. Microsoft officials declined to answer questions about the difference in features between the Mac and Windows versions of MSN Messenger.

But one difference, according to users, is in support for video. Last years launch of MSN Messenger 6 for Windows brought users the ability to chat using Webcams, something currently not available in the Mac release. MSN Messenger competitor AOL Instant Messenger in February added support for video chats between its AIM client for Windows and Apples iChat AV application.

Microsoft last year ended development of its Internet Explorer Web browsers for the Mac after Apple launched its own Safari browser, but the company has remained committed to developing other applications for the Mac.

Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac, already in manufacturing, is scheduled to be available during the third week of this month. Microsoft also has begun early work on a follow-on release to the productivity suite.

/zimages/5/28571.gifClick here to read more about Microsofts Office 2004 for Mac plans.

MSN Messenger for Mac 4.0 adds tighter integration with Office 2004. In Word 2004, users can conduct real-time messaging sessions about a document without leaving the applications. The Office Address Book within Entourage also includes an icon for launching a Messenger session.

Among other features, the new release includes a spam filter to weed out unsolicited instant messages and adds more "emoticons," MSN Messenger icons for expressing emotions.

MSN Messenger for Mac 4.0 is available as a free download at Microsofts Mac Web site. It requires Mac OS X Version 10.2.8 or later.

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