Microsoft is upping the ante on VoIP tie-ins with the launch of its new Windows Live Messenger.

Essentially an revamp of MSN Messenger, the IM service now offers VoIP calling as well as full-screen video chat thanks to Microsoft's new LifeCams that were launched last week.

MSN Messenger is one of the most popular instant messaging services world-wide, with over 200 millions users in April.

The popularity of the service and high numbers of registered users gives Microsoft an edge over VoIP competitors like Skype. Users may find it easier to plug straight into Microsoft's voice system rather than register with another company's service.

The beta version of Windows Live Messenger has been available since April.

Other new features include shared search within the messenger window, enhanced built-in security, and mobile messaging that allows users to send messages to friends on their mobiles, even if the contact doesn't have a messenger account.

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