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Microsoft Demoted To Developing Widgets For Bebo

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Bebo, the social networking site known for not being quite as relevant as MySpace or Facebook (we swear we’re HUGE in Europe…we swear), is teaming up with Microsoft to launch an instant-messaging program in its network.
How will the new service work for Bebo’s users? An explanation, from the Journal:

Bebo members will be able to click a link to start an IM session with any other Bebo member, even if neither has a Windows Live ID, the sign-on used for Hotmail and other Microsoft services. They'll also be able to exchange messages with Bebo friends who aren't logged on, but who are using Microsoft's regular Windows Live Messenger program. However, Bebo users will not be able to send instant messages to Windows Live Messenger users who don't have Bebo accounts, and Windows Live Messenger users won't be able to see if their buddies are logged on to Bebo.

The genius of Microsoft is apparent – Bebo users get a half-functional version of Windows Live Messenger that they can’t talk to non-Bebo Windows Live Messenger users with. And this move is based on the presumption that many Bebo users use Windows Live Messenger. Why do we need the middleman? Is it trying to create appeal by adding another layer of exclusivity (because it doesn’t seem to add much else)?
It’s like Facebook’s recent semi-integration with AIM. Considering you already IM many of your Facebook friends, it’s kind of superfluous whether they’re on Facebook or not.
Bebo is listed here as having 34 million users, the same number of users as Facebook (although this same list has MySpace showing 192 million users and as having 40 million users…I mean, sure…it’s pretty easy to be cavalier about users when they’re unmonetized).
Social-Networking Site Bebo To Use Microsoft's IM Service [Wall Street Journal]