MSN Messenger Service recorded 31.9 million unique users worldwide in March, maintaining its lead as the most-used free instant-messaging service, according to research from Jupiter Media Metrix. It is the second month in a row that Microsoft has beat AOL's Instant Messenger and ICQ services and the Yahoo Messenger service to secure the top spot.
Jupiter's study was based on unique users in the US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, Canada, Spain, Brazil, Italy, Argentina and Switzerland.
The latest figures show a shift in popularity for the one-time underdog. In November 2000, MSN Messenger lagged behind AOL Instant Messenger with 10.3 million US users compared to Instant Messenger's 21.5 million, according to Media Metrix.
Hotmail also had a bumper March with Microsoft recording 100 million active e-mail accounts. Since Microsoft acquired Hotmail in 1997, the company said it has increased its user base 10-fold.