BlackBerry Messenger is one step closer to reaching all Windows Phone users.
The BBM for Windows beta popped up at Microsoft's Windows Phone store on Monday with the following description:
"BBM for Windows beta. We're getting ready to welcome Windows Phone users to the BBM community. BBM brings you together in the moment with friends and family through instant chats, voice calls, picture sharing, voice notes and more."
The once-dominant mobile phone maker has been hit hard by a dwindling market share as individual consumers and businesses have gravitated to rival platforms such as iOS and Android. In response, BlackBerry has tried to carve out more specific niches for itself to stay alive. Once such niche is BBM, its free chatting and voice calling app, which expanded beyond BlackBerry to iOS and Android late last year after some initial hiccups. Those versions added more than 40 million registered users to the total BBM population by the end of 2013.
Users had been asking BlackBerry to extend BBM to other mobile systems, such as Windows Phone, BBM product and marketing chief Jeff Gadway said in February. At the time Gadway said the Windows Phone version would arrive sometime this summer.
The app is listed as compatible with Windows Phone 8 and 8.1. But there's one gotcha. You probably won't be able to install it just yet. The app is in private beta mode for now, according to BlackBerry. A spokeswoman for the company shared these details with CNET:
"We have been using the Windows Phone storefront to help conduct a closed internal beta to test the BBM for Windows Phone app. We plan to use the Windows Phone store to facilitate a broader external beta in the coming weeks. Only users who have been whitelisted to participate in the beta will be able to install the app. More information on how to participate in that external beta will be available through the BBM blog shortly."