News Corp.'s (NWS) Internet social network MySpace said it officially launched the early version of its instant messaging service, MySpaceIM, which has been available to some users for about a year.

The unit of Fox Interactive Media said the service uses high-end features such as video and the ability to access MySpace e-mail with a single click. It estimates that more than 17 million users have installed the service.

Instant messaging is a vastly popular online communication tool, a part of every-day life for both consumer and professional interactions.

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Microsoft's (MSFT) MSN/Windows Live Messenger is most popular globally, while Yahoo Inc. (YHOO) is No. 2 worldwide in IM with 88.5 million users, according to audience measurement company comScore Inc. AOL's AIM is No. 1 in IM in the United States. Google's (GOOG) Google Talk is also popular.

Upstarts like Meebo.com are also becoming popular among early technology adopters with a Web-based service that allows users to simultaneously sign on to AIM, Yahoo, Microsoft and Google IM programs.

Social networks such as MySpace and Facebook let users share images, music, videos and blogs and are popular among teenagers.

FOX News is owned by News Corp., the parent compay of Myspace.com