SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp. (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research) will expand the availability of its corporate instant messaging software to mobile devices and cell phones, the world's largest software maker said on Monday.
Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said it would also partner with BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM.TO: Quote, Profile, Research) (RIMM.O: Quote, Profile, Research) so that users of the popular wireless e-mail devices can send and receive instant messages as well.
Such products are aimed at office workers who need to send instant text messages without having to sit in front of a desktop or a notebook personal computer, but also want the ability to keep such communications secure and available for later retrieval.
Microsoft is betting demand for corporate instant-messaging and Web-conferencing products will increase as companies encourage employees to work together remotely, rather than in face-to-face meetings that can involve costly business travel.
Microsoft said the mobile version of its recently upgraded instant messaging program for businesses, called Microsoft Office Communicator, will be available in the second half of 2005. The software can track whether users are online and allow them to swap text messages between phones or between a cell phone and a PC.
Microsoft's MSN Internet division offers a separate instant messenger for consumers using Windows Mobile based devices.