According to MSNBC.com, Microsoft plans to release a new version of MSN Instant Messenger. The catch: It's not free, and you have to be a paying subscriber to Microsoft's MSN 8 online service. I've been seeing similar things pop up from other IM companies. This new version of MSN, which could be released as early as October, would feature the addition of things like parental control, contact list sharing, and dual Passport login.
My recommendation: If you're going to pay for an IM service, do yourself a favor and check out Trillian Pro.
Offering exclusive, paid IM features dovetails with Microsoft's retrenchment of its consumer Web services strategy. Rather than offer a broad set of a la carte services envisioned under HailStorm, Microsoft plans to offer beefed up services to consumers subscribing to MSN 8. HailStorm, later renamed .Net My Services, would have delivered online calendaring, contacts, location and other services over the Web, mainly through MSN.com. Now many of those services will be funneled into MSN 8, which customers must pay to subscribe to.Article @ MSNBC.com.