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Microsoft has launched a microblog-style service in China based on Windows Live Messenger, expanding the social-networking functions linked to the chat software in a country where it is a hit.
The new service, which is called MSN Juku and is now in beta, lets users post 140-character messages to an update screen that slowly scrolls old messages to the right. The service automatically links users with people on their Live Messenger contact lists, whose updates also appear on the scrolling timeline. Posts are also stacked top-to-bottom and display only their first few words when they appear close together. Pointing the mouse at a condensed message shows its full version.
A lot of people in business in China have MSN messenger accounts, so this will have a fairly big user base to market to. It will probably not be long before their rival, QQ, comes up with something similar (if they haven't already).
The model stems from Twitter and their use of SMS on mobile phones.
From the Twitter FAQ
The standard text message length in most places is 160 characters per message. We reserve 20 characters for people's names, and the other 140 are all yours!
Microsoft Joint Venture in China Plagiarizes Competitor [windowsitpro.com]
Microsoft this week found itself in another intellectual property theft snafu after a Chinese joint venture with MSN branding was found to have plagiarized the design and underlying code of another social network service called Plurk. MSN Juku, a recently-launched Chinese social networking service that is based on MSN Messenger, is a joint venture between MSN China and an independent third-party company.
When the service launched earlier this month, however, Microsoft described MSN Juku as "a local innovation developed by MSN China," and not a microblogging service like Twitter. But MSN Juku is clearly a Twitter clone, allowing people to publish 140 character posts, just like Twitter. And it wasn't developed by MSN China, but was instead farmed out to a third party.
The service's similarities to Twitter are not at issue, however. Instead, a separate social networking service, Plurk, says that MSN Juku is a direct "rip off" of its own service. "Blatant theft of code, design, and UI elements is just not cool, especially when the infringing party is the biggest software company in the world," a public statement from Plurk reads. "Some 80 percent of the client and product codebase appears to be stolen directly from Plurk [and] the service's design and UI is by and large an EXACT copy of Plurk's innovative left-right timeline scrolling navigation system."
Here is Plurk's response: Microsoft China rips off Asia's No. 1 Microblogging Service [blog.plurk.com]
Microsoft has admitted to the plagiarism problem and has shutdown the Juku service.