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Microsoft Experiments With Mobile Social Networking

Microsoft's social networking software lets people blast messages and photos to fellow members in a group.

Microsoft is testing social networking software that would enable mobile phone subscribers to send instant messages, pinpoint each other's location and share photos.

In developing SLAM, the Microsoft Research Community Technologies Group hopes to provide an easier way for people to communicate with family and friends. The software is available for download at no charge.

An easier method for social networking on a cellular phone could be attractive to adults from 18 to 26, who, according to Forrester Research, are the biggest users of data services. So-called Generation Yers have been most successful in integrating the phone into their lifestyles.

SLAM, which stands for Social, Location, Annotation, Mobile, lets people blast messages and photos to fellow members in a group. For people with the SLAM client installed, their smart phones will buzz, and an indicator on the phone's home screen will show that there's a new message. The application supports any Windows Mobile smart phone.

The software client can also show a map that marks the locations of everyone in a group. The SLAM server, which is hosted by Microsoft, generates the map using MSN's Virtual Earth, the software maker's satellite mapping service. People's locations are known because the software client periodically tells the server where it is.

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