BBM on Windows Phone

BBM is coming to Windows Phone. Here we explain when BBM is coming to Windows Phone, how to get BBM for Windows Phone. We also explore some of the features of BBM for Windows Phone. See also: 35 best smartphones of 2014 UK.

What is BBM?

BBM - aka BlackBerry Messenger - is a messaging service from BlackBerry. It allows you to send and receive instant messages in seconds over an internet connection. Users can chat one-to-one or in groups. BBM also supports video- and voice calling. A hugely popular aspect of BlackBerry phones, BBM was made more widely available in part because of competition from rivals such as WhatsApp and iMessage. (See also: Best Windows Phones: What's the best Windows Phone you can buy in 2014?)

When is BBM coming to Windows Phone?

BBM used to be an exclusive feature for Blackberry phones. But late last year BlackBerry opened up iOS and Android versions to act as rivals to similar services such as WhatsApp. As BlackBerry handset sales plummet Blackberry now sees cross-platform messaging as a potential revenue stream.

At MWC in February BlackBerry announced that it would make BBM available for Windows Phones from this summer, and now it is making good on its promise. A beta version is live, and the full BBM app for Windows Phone will launch in the next weeks. (See also: BlackBerry's BBM comes to Windows Phone in beta form ahead of widespread launch.)

How to get BBM for Windows Phone

You can now run BBM on Windows Phones, but for the next short while the app and service are available only as a beta. It's a closed beta testing program with a waiting list for which you can register here.

But fear not: BlackBerry has promised to open up the app for everyone in the coming weeks. When it does you will be able to install the BBM app from the Windows Store, just like any other app. Alternatively BlackBerry will host the app download on its uk.blackberry.com/bbm.html page. Just surf there and hit download on the correct file.

What will BBM for Windows Phone be like?

The initial release will focus on basic functionality, including conversations, broadcast messages, shared calendars, shared lists, and group photo albums. Blackberry says it'll eventually add other features such as stickers, voice chat, BBM Channels, and location sharing.

It appears that Blackberry is embracing the modern-style design of Windows devices. Users will be able to swipe through each section of the app, and can pin any contact directly to the Start screen for faster access.

The BBM app will have three main sections. Contacts will let users find friends, create groups, and start multi-person chats. The Chats section will list all ongoing conversations in reverse-chronological order, and the Feeds section includes recent contact activity such as status changes, broadcast messages, and new profile photos. (See also: 8 cheapest 4G smartphones in the UK 2014.)