Microsoft has now officially launched its Live Messenger service. This is a new, enhanced version of MSN Messenger which allows users to share their online experiences and to use VoIP and video conferencing services. More new features include shared folders, where users can share data, and also the ability to share contact information (users can even subscribe to their friend's contacts details so they are constantly updated.) The service is one of 20 or so 'Live' services that Microsoft will be launching over the next year or so. Also on offer will be the likes of Windows Live Search, Windows Live Local, Windows Live Mail and MSN Spaces. Microsoft intends that Live Messenger will become the communications hub for many of these services.

Martin Taylor, corporate vice president of Windows Live and MSN, said: "Windows Live Messenger offers people the ability to see, talk and share with family and friends in such a seamless way that puts them in control."

"It's built to help people connect and share in all kinds of rich, unique ways," he added.
Windows Live and MSN are set to get a lot of focus from Microsoft. The company intends to commit approximately 1.1 billion dollars (US) of the company's overall 6.2 billion dollar research and development budget to these services.

Good old MSN Messenger, still used by some 40 million people worldwide, will remain active and usable, but you can upgrade to Windows Live Messenger for no extra cost.