MSN Messenger goes wireless

Microsoft announces plans to make its message service available on Windows CE devices, WebTV and on the Mac platform.

If Microsoft has its way, its instant messaging program could be everywhere from cell phones to television sets.

Microsoft said Tuesday that it will integrate the MSN Messenger service with the MSN Mobile Service, which provides data to cellular phones, and release versions for the Windows CE operating system, and on WebTV. The company has posted a Macintosh version of its software online Tuesday. The company did not say when the other versions would be available.

Microsoft said it also plans to include MSN Messenger as a feature in its Television Platform Adaptation Kit, so that other companies could make it part of an Internet television offering. "We want to make it easy for consumers to communicate the way they want," Consumer and Commerce Group marketing director Yusuf Mehdi said in a statement.

The releases should make competition somewhat more intense in Microsoft's battle with America Online, which dominates the space. While Microsoft has signed up 2.5 million users since it released its software earlier this year, AOL has more than 80 million subscribers for its AOL Instant Messenger and ICQ programs.