Microsoft Launches Twitter-Esque Service In China

    December 2, 2009

Microsoft has launched a new service in China, and although it’s based on Windows Live Messenger, comparisons to a site that’s popular elsewhere in the world have become inevitable.  MSN Juku, which is in beta, seems a little bit similar to Twitter.

The most obvious connection to Twitter is Juku‘s 140-character limit on messages.  Juku users are also supposed to upload profile pics and interact with friends in a manner that would be familiar to Twitter fans.  And although Juku messages are displayed via a slow scroll, setting it apart from Twitter, this detail just makes it reminiscent of Plurk.

Microsoft has made an effort to ensure that Juku isn’t thought of as a copycat, however.  It doesn’t look like Juku’s going to go head-to-head with Twitter in the U.S., either.  A Microsoft spokesperson told Stuart J. Johnston, "This service was developed by the MSN China team and is only available in the Chinese market."

Plus, it’s possible to play games and win prizes on Juku.  Twitter and Plurk don’t officially offer possibilities along those lines.

Anyway, a key point aside from seeing how people react to Juku is seeing whether it will remain accessible.  The Chinese government has had Twitter and a few of its competitors on a blacklist for months.

UPDATE: The Juku/Plurk situation has escalated quite a bit, with Microsoft admitting to (and apologizing for) the existence of identical code.  Plurk’s responded to the apology, too.

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