Following the lead of Yahoo and Google, Microsoft has begun adding the ability to hold instant-messaging conversations to its Web site.
The company already has added the feature for users in France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, and the U.K., and has begun gradually adding to user accounts in Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United States, the company said in a blog post Monday.
The feature is available through Hotmail and also through the people page that lists a Windows Live user's contacts.
I prefer instant-messaging software that runs natively on my PC, chiefly because of its faster, easier interface. But Web-based IM can be useful for the same reasons as Web-based e-mail: you can use it from any machine, including your friend's, that one at the airport kiosk or cybercafe, the locked-down machine at work, or your brand-new system that you haven't configured yet but need to use immediately. Also, if you're the type to store your IM chats, it's nicer to store them centrally in the cloud.
Now if only Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL, and Google would get together so I don't have multiple, incompatible instant-messaging networks, then I'd be even happier.