As part of an initiative to promote Windows Live Messenger 8.1 (WLM), Microsoft will give away a percentage of the advertising revenue it gains from participating users in the US, according to an announcement made on the software vendor's Channel 10 product news website.

US users of WLM can choose among nine non-profit groups: the American Red Cross, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the National AIDS Fund, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society,, the Sierra Club,, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organisation and the US Fund for UNICEF.

In a document explaining the "i'm Initiative" that was posted on Microsoft's website, the company said the amount that will be donated to charities per user "is small”. But Microsoft pledged to donate at least $100,000 to each charity in the first year of the programme. It added that there’s no scheduled end date for the programme and no cap on the amount of money that will be donated.

Users must use WLM 8.1 or subsequent releases of the IM software, which was formerly known as MSN Messenger. Version 8.1 was released 30 January, along with Windows Vista and Office 2007. The new release is Vista-compatible and can be used to communicate with users of Yahoo's instant-messaging software.