Microsoft has announced a tie-up with social networking site Bebo. The deal means that Windows Live Messenger will share contacts and status updates with Bebo. You'll also be able to message contacts from the site. The deal marks the first time Microsoft has partnered with a social networking site for contacts and messaging, despite its oft-rumoured links with Facebook.

Bebo currently has 36 million users worldwide. All will be able to use Windows Live Messenger to display their Messenger status and message their Bebo friends directly on the Bebo service. Microsoft says Bebo also has the opportunity to grow its network through the Windows Live Messenger user base. WLM currently has 280 million active users.

Microsoft adds that the partnership includes the use of the Windows Live Contacts API. The API allows users the ability to freely import and export their contacts and relationships between the services.

Social networking

"Social networking is emerging as the new form of self-expression, allowing people to communicate their passions and express their identity to one another," says Bebo's Joanna Shields.

"Our agreement with Microsoft Windows Live delivers a powerful, new way to instantly update and keep in touch with friends and serves to make the Bebo user experience even more compelling and interactive."

Bebo is confident the new feature will lead to an even greater user engagement with the site. There were 10.7 million UK unique Bebo users in July.