Microsoft is urging users not to run leaked beta versions of its forthcoming MSN Messenger Version 6 instant messaging application because the software is not ready for consumer use.
Early versions of MSN Messenger 6 have popped up on dozens of websites and new ones spring up every day. Microsoft said the versions offered on the Web are meant for internal testing only and it does not know who leaked the software.
"We had intended for the beta to be an internal beta only. MSN strongly discourages users from downloading a beta from unauthorised sites due to concerns about the stability of the code and lack of complete information," a spokesperson for Microsoft's MSN unit said.
Microsoft has asked individual websites offering the beta for download to pull the software, Larry Grothaus, lead product manager for MSN said. Users should be patient and wait for the "public preview" of the application, which is due out in the next couple of weeks, he said.
Still, Microsoft is thrilled about the popularity of the beta software: more than two million people have downloaded the leaked versions, according to Blake Irving, corporate vice-president of the MSN & Personal Services Division, MSN Communications and Merchant Platform group.
"(MSN Messenger version) 6 is fast becoming one of the most addictive services we've ever created," Irving claimed. "Anyone that has used V6 knows why it's a winning service ... I don't think the industry will have seen such a thing since ICQ got big years and years ago."
ICQ, launched in 1996, is one of the first Internet instant messaging tools. It was developed in Israel by Mirabilis and is now owned by America Online. ICQ was popular, especially in the late nineties.
MSN Messenger 6 promises improvements to the user interface, new personalisation features, integrated online gaming and built-in voice and video chat features. The final version of MSN Messenger 6 should be out "a couple of months" at most after the public preview becomes available in the coming weeks, Grothaus said.
Microsoft offers a preview of what MSN Messenger 6 will look like on its Web site at http://messenger.msn.com/sneakpeek/.