Facebook announces new messaging service

Facebook will offer a messaging service to its millions of users, a development that will give Microsoft, Yahoo and Google a run for their money.

Facebook announced Monday it will offer a new messaging service to its more than 500 million users, a development that will give email services provided by Microsoft, Yahoo and Google a run for their money.

Users will be able to get a address to go along with their account. But the company says it's fashioning its messaging more like chat than traditional email.

Blogs had been buzzing with speculation, including that Facebook will announce an email service, but the social networking site says email will be just one component of its plans.

Speaking in San Francisco, CEO Mark Zuckerberg says the company doesn't believe email is going to be a modern messaging system.

In a blog post, Facebook engineer Joel Seligstein wrote that the new messaging platform is a simplified and streamlined version of messaging: "There are no subject lines, no cc:, no bcc:, and you can send a message by hitting the Enter key. We modelled it more closely to chat and reduced the number of things you need to do to send a message. We wanted to make this more like a conversation."

A spokeswoman says the new system, which will roll out gradually over the next few months, will not immediately be available to Canadian users.

Facebook recently eclipsed Google as the most popular website in the world.

The announcement comes just a day before Zuckerberg speaks at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.

With files from The Associated Press