Microsoft has launched a microblog / twitter style service in China based on Windows Live Messenger, expanding the social-networking functions linked to the chat software in a country where it is a hit.
The new service, which is called MSN Juku and is now in beta, lets users post 140-character messages to an update screen that slowly scrolls old messages to the right. The service automatically links users with people on their Live Messenger contact lists, whose updates also appear on the scrolling timeline.
Posts are also stacked top-to-bottom and display only their first few words when they appear close together. Pointing the mouse at a condensed message shows its full version.
MSN China, the Microsoft joint venture that developed the new product, insisted it is not a microblog service. “Juku is a local innovation developed by MSN China … based on Windows Live Messenger networks,” a company representative said in an e-mail.
The new MSN service is likely an effort by Microsoft to win more users for its social-networking products as well as its instant-messaging service, said Ashley Liu, an analyst at In-Stat. Windows Live Messenger is popular in China, especially among office workers, but rival instant-messaging program QQ is also widely used and has gotten a boost from value-added services built around it, Liu said. Tencent, the owner of QQ, has had major success selling users upgrades to their accounts and virtual goods such as weapons for online games. More at Source.
UPDATE 1: 15th Dec 2009. Microsoft is investigating questions of plagiarism from a start-up, Plurk over MSN China joint venture’s Juku feature.
UPDATE 2: 16th Dec 2009. Microsoft has issued a statement regarding MSN China Joint Venture’s Juku feature.