Open ICQ interface, add-ons target developers

The latest version of America Online's ICQ instant-messaging client features a multifunction message window, birthday alerts, new games and cell phone message forwarding.

America Online's ICQ subsidiary on Tuesday formally released the latest version of its instant-messaging service and software.

As reported earlier, ICQ 4.0 is designed to let consumers personalize service and allow developers to access the software's application programming interfaces (APIs). New features include a multifunction message window, birthday alerts, new games and the capability to forward messages to cell phones. The latest version can be downloaded from the ICQ Web site.

The update features ICQ Xtraz software, which is targeted at developers. The software, which comes with an open API, lets programmers build features separately from the core ICQ client. That will allow developers to deliver new services without forcing them to download a new client.

Instant-messaging services from Internet service providers like Yahoo and MSN have emerged as a popular means of communication among Net users globally. ICQ said it has 180 million registered users.

"With our new Xtraz technology, we can instantly extend our personal communications platform to any number of new partners who can provide content and services our users need," Orey Gilliam, general manager of ICQ, said in a statement.

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