Microsoft today said it has launched a version of its Hotmail web-based email service that can be accessed from mobile phones using an email-to-SMS system.
The service went live in Germany and France today. According to an MSN statement, it plans to launch the service in the UK and Spain "in the near future".
Users will specify email addresses from which they agree to receive SMS (short message service) email. They will then be able to read and reply to any messages from those addresses, said a spokesman for Microsoft. This will protect against spam and unwanted SMS messaging, he said.
Microsoft has come very late to the party; unified messaging has been around for some years and, with its enormous user base, one would have thought Microsoft would have jumped on this bandwagon sooner.
Hotmail was created in 1995 and bought by Microsoft, after a year of speculation and negotiation, in December 1997.
MSN also announced today that it has revamped its portal service to work with the latest version of its PDA (personal digital assistant) operating system Pocket PC 2002, but considering it's been possible to access MSN and Hotmail using the Internet Explorer browser built in to existing versions of Pocket PC, this is almost certainly spin to keep MSN in the news. After all, it's still nearly impossible to get your Hotmail on a Palm.