The forces or Mordor are gathering. First the Dark Lord Redmond inked a deal with Witch King BT, now it has teamed with Vodafone, ruler of Isengard.
At this stage it is unclear whether the troika now wear matching rings, but this latest contract will witness greater integration of Microsoft’s instant messaging into the network giant's mobile phones.
A basic version of this concept already exists over SMS, but it is slow, expensive and in need of a radical update. By contrast, the new service promises to bypass text messaging technology altogether, while also allowing users see one another online and even exchange files.
Roll out for the technology will be fast, possibly before the end of the year. Pricing has yet to be revealed, but we know the form it will take: Vodafone customers will pay either through additional monthly charges or prepayment, while MSN Messenger users will buy packages over the web.
Given that 165m people currently use MSN Messenger and 155m are ensnared by Vodafone contracts the potential market for the service is massive. Whether other networks will be drawn to the Dark Lord or scrawl similar contracts with the likes of Yahoo, AOL and ICQ remains to be seen.
We know what Microsoft would want, however: ‘’One service to rule them all. One service to find them, One service to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.’’