Users of Hotmail and MSN Messenger got a wireless boost Tuesday when Microsoft announced a new version of its MSN Mobile service. With MSN Mobile 4.0, which targets pagers, mobile phones and other handheld devices, wireless operators will be able to offer customers e-mail and instant-messaging services in formats including two-way Short Message Service. The interactive service is also available on any device that accepts text messages.
The newest version of MSN Mobile is the latest effort by Microsoft to expand into the wireless market, where it is in a heated battle with AOL Time Warner. Last month, AOL said it was teaming with AT&T Wireless to develop and market a new mobile service and a new handset as part of a wider effort by the two companies to include enhanced AOL services on AT&T phones. Microsoft likewise has formed partnerships with phone and pager makers to get a foothold in the sector. On Monday, Birmingham, England-based phone maker Sendo Holdings said that it received an investment from Microsoft related to the Stinger "smart phone." Microsoft has distribution relationships for its Mobile technology with Verizon Wireless, Sprint PCS, Nextel Communications, Motorola and Arch Wireless in the United States and with Bell Mobility, Telus and Rogers Wireless in Canada.