From the Microsoft press release MSN Introduces New Communication Service That Enables Blogging, Picture Sharing and More 

MSN Spaces: More Than a Blog

The MSN Spaces beta version is a free service available in 14 languages and 26 markets worldwide. MSN Spaces was designed to make it easy for consumers to create and maintain a personal Web site, bringing the power and benefits of blogging to millions of Internet users, regardless of their level of technical expertise. More than a blogging tool, MSN Spaces is a dynamic online scrapbook where consumers can share photo albums, personal music lists and more. And more than an ordinary personal Web site, through seamless integration with MSN Messenger and MSN Hotmail, MSN Spaces will automatically notify online contacts when a person's Space has been updated so his or her online community knows when it is time to pay a visit. People can sign up for MSN Spaces through MSN Messenger or by going to http://spaces.msn.com. Key features of the service include the following:

  • Control your Space. Consumers can choose the people who visit their Space through three levels of permissions: public, MSN Messenger contacts only or private.
  • Use pictures and music to say more. MSN Spaces enable consumers to easily display their pictures via a photo album slide show. Consumers can easily share playlists through their Space with Microsoft® Windows Media® technologies. With just two clicks, people can sample or purchase a song on someone's playlist through MSN Music**.
  • Create an extension of yourself. Contact Cards - a new addition to MSN Messenger and Hotmail - are windows into a consumer's Space, mirroring its look and the most recent information posted. MSN Spaces also supports RSS, so consumers can publish their Space to others by way of RSS viewers and aggregators - including My MSN, coming soon.
  • Post remote updates. Consumers can post updates to their Space remotely via e-mail or a mobile phone.
  • Make it your own. Fifteen custom backgrounds and five layout templates give consumers a way to quickly customize and personalize their Space.

MSN Messenger: More Expressive Than Ever

Available in 26 languages, the public beta release of MSN Messenger builds on the popular IM service which supports more than 145 million active users worldwide each month, and offers consumers new ways to express themselves online and personalize their instant messaging experience. Available for download at http://messenger.msn.com/beta, the beta release of MSN Messenger will give consumers a taste of what's to come with the final release, expected next year. Features in the MSN Messenger 7.0 beta enable consumers to do the following:

  • Get attention. Consumers can reach out to friends and family by sending a "Nudge," an alert that shakes the contact's conversation window with an audible notification, or a "Wink," animated pictures that include sound and that can be virtually "thrown" onto the screen of a contact's Internet message (IM) window. New emoticons, backgrounds and theme packs from Microsoft Corp., including advertiser-sponsored packs such as for "Halo® 2",* round out the experience.
  • Stay connected. Through integration with MSN Messenger, consumers can automatically let their contacts know that they have updated their MSN Space. The MSN Messenger Contact icon "gleams" when an update is made, notifying others to visit the Space via the Contact Card.
  • Access the Web anywhere. MSN Web Messenger, shipping in 25 markets and 15 languages, enables consumers to access their MSN Messenger account and contacts from virtually any PC with an Internet connection.
  • Choose your online status. The beta release of MSN Messenger gives consumers more control over how they're seen online by enabling them to choose their availability status before logging into Messenger.

MSN Hotmail: Bringing It All Together

MSN Hotmail, the largest free Web e-mail system in the world with more than 187 million active accounts, rounds out the trio of free, integrated communication services. MSN Hotmail recently introduced 250MB inboxes to new consumers in nine markets and launched a photo upload tool for all consumers to make it easier for them to share pictures online. The beta versions of MSN Spaces and MSN Messenger help give consumers even more ways to communicate and share through MSN Hotmail, including these:

  • View online status anywhere. Through integration between MSN Hotmail and MSN Web Messenger, in select markets, consumers are able to see Messenger availability status even on PCs that don't have MSN Messenger client software.
  • Learn more about Contacts. MSN Hotmail consumers who have an MSN Spaces site will have a Contact Card visible in the Hotmail address book, providing friends, family and other online contacts with one-click access to their Spaces site.

Now that this stuff is live I'll be blogging a bit more about work as well as discussing some of our future direction. By the way, check out my space at http://spaces.msn.com/members/carnage4life