Windows Live Messenger comes to iPhone

There have been ways of accessing your Windows Live Messenger account on Apple's iDevices for some time now, but is Microsoft's official offering another me-too reaction to the iPhone's popularity, or an attempt to spread the word?

Microsoft's attempts to get a foothold on the mobile market have been mixed, both in terms of public perception and market penetration. Windows Mobile gained a certain amount of traction amongst users of its grown-up sibling, but it never exactly set the world alight in the same way as Apple's game-changing iPhone.

Even now Windows 7 Mobile is lurking in a lab somewhere waiting for the spark of life, but the near-simultaneous release of the iPhone 4 and Apple's new mobile operating system iOS4 might just be making Microsoft's mobile OS engineers take a second glance at their work to date.

Microsoft seems to have taken on the old adage, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" with the release of Windows Live Messenger for Iphone, perhaps coming to the conclusion that seeding its popular chat software to the biggest player in the mobile arena is better than not being invited into the arena at all.

The free software, which is available from iTunes, ticks all the required boxes for a mobile messaging App, receiving instant messages using push notification, accessing Hotmail accounts, hooking up with Facebook and other popular social notworking sites, and allowing users to upload snaps from their iPhones.

Early reviewers are reporting that the interface is well designed, and that the App seems to be snappier than some third party efforts, but others are suggesting that Messenger for iPhone is a good start, but needs some tweaks to really pull in the punters.

So, Microsoft has taken the plunge and joined the Apple fold. Whether notoriously loyal Apple fans will take a similar leap of faith in the direction of Microsoft remains to be seen. But the fact that the App is currently sitting at number two in the Apple's own Free Apps chart just 24 hours after its release could be indicative.