Microsoft's Mac Business Unit insists it has no plans to discontinue development of Messenger for Mac – promising a new version of the software soon.

This announcement follows reports earlier this week in which it was claimed the company planned to replace the product, as revealed at the Georgia Institute of Technology's IEEE Student Branch.

That report had claimed the company planned to ditch the product in favour of a new and more advanced program. That may be true - but the instant messaging software will bear the same family name, Microsoft has now revealed.

"Office 2008 for Mac will include Messenger for Mac 6.0 in the box," Microsoft explained. That version is available now for free download from the company's MacTopia pages.

Development of the new version is being conducted in close collaboration with Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger team. Messenger for Mac 7.0 will introduce new audio/visual capabilities, the company said.

"The Mac BU just reached a milestone in the development process of the next version, Messenger for Mac 7.0, with the recent launch of a private beta for a select group of enterprise customers in an Office Communication Server 2007 environment who can try out the new audio/visual capabilities for business users," a Microsoft representative explained.

"The group continues to work closely with the Windows Live Messenger team to bring audio/visual to personal users. We will keep you posted on Messenger for Mac 7.0 progress in the coming months," Microsoft added.