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Lastminute.com will offer its users updates on their purchases via Windows Messenger. It has also integrated with Microsoft's Passport authentication scheme, allowing users to automatically logon to the service.

All this ties the UK dotcom even closer into Microsoft's .NET vision of integrated Web services. A default tab from the company will be included in Messenger 4.5, more simply known as the version now shipping with Windows XP, although it can be downloaded for other Windows platforms.

Presumably when users book holidays, tickets or other things on the site, they will get a helpful little pop-up messages advising them either that all is well or there has been an alteration on something (or perhaps another airline has been liquidated and please could you fly with another company). It will also send information about specials deals, new offers and other things you may be interested in.

This could all be quite useful, providing it doesn't stray beyond the realms of usefulness into painful opt-out marketing (imagine booking a flight to Spain and then getting a slew of instant messages telling you about hotel specials, new concerts in the area, etc.)

Babak Foulabi, head of platforms at the company, says abuse of its users will not happen, more precisely: "We will never, ever, ever send information that has not been requested."

Apparently users will have a wide range of parameters to select from, ensuring they only get the type of updates they want, when they want them. While the new tab is available immediately, the alerts are "coming soon".

According to Foulabi, this is stage one of the MS .NET early adopters programme, with other stages due rolling out at some unspecified future time. ®

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Lastminute's 'inspiring' .Net experience

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