Microsoft has firmed a key agreement with Orange for the distribution of its MSN Messenger and Hotmail services to mobile subscribers throughout Europe. The deal gives MSN potential access to some 35 million subscribers, helping it gain the edge on rival messaging giants such as Yahoo! and AOL.
The new agreement will make MSN mobile services available to 19.2 million Orange users in France as well as other Western European markets, building on similar existing offerings for subscribers in Germany and the UK. Launched last year, the mobile versions of MSN Messenger and Hotmail alert users when a new message is received and allows mobile chat via a customised version of the Messenger client.
The relationship between Orange and Microsoft has been steadily building over the past twelve months with Orange the first, and now only, major mobile carrier to accept a customised version of the Microsoft SPV Smartphone. T-Mobile last week cancelled plans to develop a similar unit.
Microsoft has previously signed similar deals with Vodafone in the United Kingdom and Bell Mobility in Canada. Microsoft has deals with 22 mobile operators across the world for its MSN services. Verizon Wireless has an extensive deal with the company to brand its wireless services as VZW with MSN.