Microsoft previews .NET Alerts Service
By Rick Perera
(IDG) -- Microsoft is previewing a service by which customers can receive instant messages from companies carrying information such as auction bid updates, stock quotes, travel schedule changes, and bank transaction notifications.
For the preview period, the .NET Alerts Service is being implemented by online auction site eBay, Microsoft's MSN Carpoint online automotive service, and the financial news service CNBC via Microsoft Money, said Reda Bouchami, business development manager for Microsoft .NET My Service for Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
The alerts work with the MSN Messenger service and will soon be available to users of the new Windows XP operating system with its integrated Windows Messenger. The alerts can also be sent via standard e-mail or via devices supporting Microsoft's MSN Mobile wireless service, including handheld devices based on Microsoft's Pocket PC operating system or the Handspring and Palm operating systems.
The alerts could potentially be delivered via other instant messaging services besides Microsoft's own, Bouchami said, since .NET Alerts Service is an open technology based on XML. "The back-office stuff could be any platform, it does not necessary have to be a Microsoft back-office solution."
The alerts are an opt-in service, meaning that users will only receive information they have specifically requested, Bouchami continued.
"We take spam very seriously. We have had issues around [Microsoft's Web-based e-mail service] Hotmail; I think that's possibly what a lot of people have in their mind. We are investing a lot of money to see how we can get around that," he said.
Users will be able to select routing options, such as having the alerts sent to their PC instant message service when they are online and to their mobile phone when they are offline, Bouchami said, adding that 23 other companies, including Etrade, Microsoft's Expedia online travel site, and the Nasdaq stock market, plan to offer information updates via the service.
Receiving alerts will be free of charge. Companies wishing to send the messages will probably be billed on an annual subscription basis, with an incremental cost per message above a certain number, said Bouchami, though a final pricing scheme has not yet been determined.
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