updated 6/30/2005 5:53:50 PM ET 2005-06-30T21:53:50

Microsoft Corp.'s Internet portal MSN and British mobile phone company Vodafone Group PLC on Thursday said they plan to launch a new instant messaging service in Europe that will allow text messaging between personal computers and mobile phones.

The new service, which the companies called the first of its kind, aims to capitalize on the growing popularity of instant messaging on both PCs and cellphones.

(MSNBC is a Microsoft-NBC joint venture.)

Both Microsoft and Vodafone -- the world's second biggest mobile phone operator based on number of subscribers -- said they expect to generate more frequent communication between computer and mobile phone users, creating more traffic.

Vodafone customers will pay for the service through their monthly bill, while MSN customers will be able to pay through packages available from MSN Messenger, the companies said in a joint statement.

The new service will be launched in several European countries by year end, they said.

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