Microsoft previews .Net alerts service

Microsoft Corp. 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, Microsoft said in a statement Monday.

For the preview period, the .Net Alerts Service is being implemented by online auction site eBay Inc., Microsoft's MSN Carpoint online automotive service, and the financial news service CNBC on Microsoft Money.

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 Inc. and Palm Inc. operating systems.

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, Microsoft said, adding that 23 other companies, including E-Trade Corp., Microsoft's Expedia online travel site, and Nasdaq Stock Market Inc., plan to offer information updates via the service.

The company stressed that the alerts are an opt-in service, meaning that users will only receive information they have specifically requested.

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