Microsoft announced Wednesday a new instant messaging service aimed at corporate users that adds security, message archiving, and other enterprise features to the company's MSN Messenger service. Dubbed MSN Messenger Connect, the new service is a stop-gap measure for Microsoft, which is developing a real-time communications (RTC) server product code-named Greenwich, designed to deliver voice, video, data collaboration and presence integration. RTC functionality was originally part of Windows .NET Server 2003, but the company decided to strip that functionality in mid-2002. MSN Messenger Connect is essentially a preview of the Greenwich technologies, Microsoft says.

"Microsoft's experience in providing software and services for both enterprises and consumers makes us uniquely qualified to bring managed instant messaging to the workplace," said Yusuf Mehdi, the vice president of MSN at Microsoft. "MSN Messenger Connect delivers features that our enterprise customers have told us they require, such as logging and namespace management, to effectively communicate and conduct transactions with their customers using the MSN Messenger Service."

MSN Messenger Connect provides security features that ensure you're messaging the correct person, auditing services, and logging functionality. The service includes an MSN Messenger Connect subscription, logging partner service software, and Windows 2000 and SQL Server 2000 software. Microsoft will release MSN Messenger Connect in the first quarter 2003, the company says.