Microsoft is beta testing a Web-based MSN Messenger client that will let its hundreds of millions of users talk online with friends in real time by using only a Web browser. Microsoft created the client because certain companies block Instant Messaging (IM) traffic or lock down software installations on corporate PCs and because many users want to chat when they're away from their highly configured PCs. The MSN Web Messenger client will work from any shared computer, Microsoft says, whether it's at school, work, a friend's house, or anywhere else users can't install the MSN Messenger software.
  
"MSN Messenger is a fully featured instant messaging program that you install on your own computer or one you have permission to install on," a note on the company's Web site says. "MSN Web Messenger enables you two quickly and easily use basic instant messaging features on a Web browser on any computer without installing any software." The full version of MSN Web Messenger will ship later this year; Microsoft is currently soliciting feedback on the beta version and will make changes to the final version based on that feedback.
  
MSN Web Messenger requires Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) 5.0 or later, Netscape 7.0 or later, or Mozilla 1.6 or later running on any modern Windows release. You must have a Microsoft .NET Passport account and enable pop-ups for the MSN Web Messenger Web site. For more information and to try the free beta, visit the MSN Web Messenger Beta Web site.