The buzz

Briefs and news of note.

Published June 26, 2006

Microsoft debuts message system

Microsoft Corp.'s latest instant messaging program is ready for prime time, the company says. Windows Live Messenger officially launched last week. The free program is an upgrade to MSN Messenger, the previous name for the software maker's tool for quickly communicating online. Such products have become incredibly popular for a wide variety of audiences. The basic service gives people a way to quickly type messages back and forth. Windows Live Messenger also offers video calling and ways to easily share files, among other features. Competitors, including market leader AOL, also are adding such functions. Yahoo Inc. said it was opening up its messaging service so that outside developers can create programs that plug into it. MSN Messenger was the second most popular instant messaging service, after AOL, for U.S. home and worker users, according to May data from Nielsen/NetRatings.

EBay traders get to share tips

Users of eBay are getting new ways to tout their wares and coach one another on how to use the auction Web site. EBay Inc. has created eBay Wiki, a collaboratively written repository on hundreds of topics relating to trading on the site. Unlike forums, in which members respond to previous posts with new messages, wikis let anyone add, delete or change any item, so that the end result appears as a collaborative narrative. Rachel Makool, the company's senior director of community development, said eBay wanted to lend more structure to member communication and make it easier to search for particular topics. The company also said it will host blogs for members, going beyond the "about me" pages that users can offer with links to outside blogs. She said they are meant to make members "more comfortable with each other."

Site gets fancy with tech toys

There's a new online playground for folks who like trying new software and cutting-edge technologies. Sonic Solutions Inc., a digital media software maker, has launched its Roxio Labs Web site, where the public can try a variety of new media applications and offer suggestions for improvements. Some of the software will be free, though paid versions might be sold later, the company said. Among the first batch of programs is MyTV ToGo, which allows consumers to transfer television shows recorded on TiVo Inc. digital video recorders or Microsoft Corp. Windows Media Center PCs to portable media players and Web-capable cell phones.

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