The Facebook Messenger app familiar to users of the social networking site is now available as a standalone Web site service. Facebook launched Messenger.com, which still requires an active Facebook account to use, on Wednesday.
Why roll out a separate Web site for a service that is already easily accessible to Facebook users? By focusing on Messenger services only, the new site eliminates the other features of Facebook that can prove distracting, especially the time-eating News Feed.
"Once logged in, people can dive directly into a dedicated desktop messaging experience, keeping their conversations going and picking up where they left off," a Facebook spokesperson told us.
For now, the social networking giant reportedly has no plans to sever the online Messenger completely from its main site, as the Messenger service remains available via Facebook as well. Mobile Facebook users, on the other hand, must download a separate app to use Messenger on their cellphones and other portable devices.
New Ambitions Unveiled at F8
Facebook lifted the veil off its new Messenger ambitions during last month's F8 developers' conference in San Francisco. During that event, it announced the launch of both Messenger Platform and Messenger Business.
Messenger Business, which has its own page on the new Messenger Web site but has yet to formally launch, is designed to be a one-stop communication destination for companies looking to better engage with their customers. Once the service goes live, it will enable businesses to send information and updates in real time to customers throughout the browsing, buying, shipping and delivery processes.
Messenger Platform, meanwhile, will support a wide range of new apps for Messenger's estimated 600 million users. Aimed at providing new app opportunities for developers, Messenger Platform already features a slew of new communication-enhancing apps, from voice changers and meme generators to content from ESPN and The Weather Channel.
More Languages Coming Soon
The rollout of Messenger as a separate Web-based offering reflects Facebook's new status, described at F8, as a "family of apps" rather than a single site with a variety of social networking applications in one place. CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted during the conference that the company's long-term goal is to enable everybody around the world to connect with one another in a variety of ways.
Zuckerberg said that the "new wave of expression" will include Facebook and a growing family of apps, as well as interactive tools and -- eventually -- even virtual-reality software.
The English-language version of the new Messenger Web site officially opened for business globally on Wednesday. Facebook plans to roll out support for additional languages over the next few weeks.
"This product is for people who use Messenger and who want a dedicated messaging experience on the Web," the Facebook spokesperson told us. "It's meant to be complementary to the Messenger mobile app, and to give you another option to message on your computer."