Microsoft and MCI today announced a global, multiyear partnership to provide software and services that enable customers to place calls from a personal computer to virtually any phone. The solution, MCI Web Calling for Windows Live Call, will be available through Windows Live Messenger, the upcoming successor to MSN Messenger, which has more than 185 million active accounts around the world. The solution combines Windows Live software, advanced voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) capabilities and the strengths of MCI's expansive global network to give consumers an easy-to-use, convenient and cost-effective way to stay connected.
MCI and Microsoft are testing the service as part of a Windows Live Messenger limited beta with subscriptions initially available in the United States and expect to jointly deliver the PC-to-phone calling capabilities to France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom in the coming weeks. Once subscribed to the service, customers can place calls to and from more than 220 countries with rates starting at US$ 0.023 per minute to the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Western Europe during the beta testing period. Upon sign-up, MCI Web Calling customers will receive up to one hour of free calls. Final pricing will be determined when the product officially launches in 2006.
"Our new Windows Live PC-to-phone voice feature requires a partner that
shares our vision for connecting people globally. We are thrilled to work
with a proven global technology provider like MCI to provide the bridge
between PCs and phones with high-quality voice services that enable people
to communicate more easily, conveniently and inexpensively," said Blake
Irving, corporate vice president of the MSN Communication Services and
Member Platform group at Microsoft. "Our customers are going to love this."
"MCI Web Calling harnesses the power of MCI's expansive global network with
VoIP technology to support high-quality, cost-effective PC-to-phone voice
connections around the world," said Patty Proferes, senior vice president of
Mass Markets and Corporate Advertising for MCI. "This is a terrific example
of the expanded MCI and Microsoft strategic relationship as the two
companies continue to develop and deliver next-generation services for our
The ability to see a contact's presence information and send real-time text
messages has spurred the growth of instant messaging (IM) services. Today, MSN
Messenger customers can communicate with those people that matter most to them
through text IM and free PC-to-PC voice and video features and augment their
communications with rich personal-expression features and activities.
The Microsoft and MCI technology builds on Microsoft's PC-to-PC voice investments
and will enable customers to call from a PC to phones around the world,
including mobile phones, by simply clicking on an entry within their contact
list in Windows Live Messenger or typing a phone number into the Windows Live
Call softphone, taking the instant messaging experience to a new level. Windows
Live Messenger builds on MSN Messenger to help people develop even deeper
connections with the people they care about through a variety of experiences -
from communication to sharing information. Interested parties can learn more
about Windows Live Messenger at http://ideas.live.com.
Customers will be able to sign up for MCI Web Calling via the Windows Live Messenger client. MCI will
manage customer registration, terminating calls, customer account management,
customer support and billing for the PC-to-phone voice service and will work
closely with Microsoft on delivering a high-quality software service and
customer experience. Customers will purchase prepaid calling time from MCI in
US$ 5, US$ 10 or US$ 25 blocks for use with the service.
Okay, this definitely targets Skype's success and AOL's latest VoIP initiative as well. While AOL is
still far away from delivering a real user experience, Skype is definitely the
number one solution provider terminating VoIP calls in PSTNs and looks like
Microsoft want to get a piece of the cake as well. Now I want to see a Windows
Live client for Pocket PCs (as already available from Skype) and Smartphones as
well and maybe yesterday's
showed Communicator client for Windows Mobile could fulfill it? Who knows,
at least I expect an end-to-end scenario from Microsoft which also includes the
Windows Mobile platform!
Cheers ~ Arne