(AXcess News) Reno, NV – Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) said it is debuting its upgrade to Windows Messenger called Windows Live Messenger. The launch of Windows Live Messenger was made available Monday, Microsoft said.

Windows Live Messenger is the first core, global service to launch of the more than 20 new services currently in testing for Windows Live, according to Martin Taylor, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Windows Live and MSN.

Microsoft also launched its all-in-one PC care service, Windows Live OneCare, last month in the United States, and expects more services to release in the coming weeks and months. Other core Windows Live services in development include Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Spaces and Windows Live Search.

Microsoft’s Taylor said that because advertising is being incorporated into Windows Live features, like its instant messenger, users will not have to pay for it, which is novel for Microsoft’s high-priced licensing approach to software. But this is the Internet and instant messaging is popular – and free – so the likelihood of getting a consumer to pay in the first place is thin.

“In early May, we launched our adCenter advertising platform in the U.S. as a one-stop shop for advertisers to strategically plan and execute their campaigns across all of Microsoft’s online properties, from Windows Live to MSN and elsewhere,” said Taylor.

Windows Live Messenger is an upgrade to MSN Messenger, the previous name for the software maker’s tool for quickly communicating online. Such products have become incredibly popular for a wide variety of audiences, from teens to business people.

The basic service gives instant messaging users a way to quickly type messages back and forth. Windows Live Messenger also offers other functions, such as video calling and ways to easily share files, Taylor points out.

Taylor explained that, “Windows Live Messenger as one of the most pivotal services within Windows Live, because it’s built to help people connect and share in all kinds of rich, unique ways.”

Windows Live Messenger is the first core Windows Live service to launch. Taylor said Windows Live Messenger is one of the main hubs of Windows Live. “From directly within Windows Live Messenger, users can launch a shared Windows Live Search query so they can pick out a restaurant with the person they’re talking with, or visit a blog on MSN Spaces to see what their friend has been up to, or browse to their favorite Web sites using Windows Live Favorites, or check their Windows Live Mail,” Taylor said.

Current users can keep their existing @hotmail.com or @msn.com addresses when they upgrade to Windows Live Messenger. Windows Live Messenger is an upgrade to MSN Messenger, so their contacts and more come over with them.

Windows Live Messenger users will be able to connect with people through high-quality video and voice features in IM as well as PC-to-phone calling. Another new feature called Sharing Folders allows users to share information by simply dragging and dropping their files, such as photos of any size, from the Sharing Folder into the Windows Live Messenger window. The Sharing Folders feature is similar to Google’s program.

Taylor said Microsoft is dedicating $1.1 billion of the company’s overall $6.2 billion research and development budget toward Windows Live and MSN in the 2007 fiscal year that starts next month. “Windows Live is a huge growth opportunity for Microsoft. The online advertising opportunity will be a big growth driver for Microsoft in the coming years, as the market continues to expand,” said Taylor.