Users of Instant Messenger can keep receiving messages, even when they are not logged on to their personal computer, as Microsoft and eight European mobile operators expanded the service to cellphones on Monday.
A message sent from a PC to a user who is 'off-line' will automatically be forwarded to his mobile phone in the form of a short SMS text message. Replies from a mobile phone will land back in the Instant Messenger dialog box on the computer. Mobile phone users will be charged per message received or sent.
Operators in Belgium, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Turkey and Norway, with a combined total of 31 million customers, launched the service on Monday, in conjunction with Microsoft's internet services unit MSN.
Microsoft is the only company bringing an Instant Messenger to European mobile phones, but America Online and VoiceStream, owned by Germany's Deutsche Telekom, have brought AOL's Instant Messenger to phones in the United States since November.
News source: Reuters