Microsoft Calls MCI For VoIP

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Microsoft plans to implement VoIP calling in the upcoming version of Windows Live Messenger and have partnered with MCI to deliver the service.

Testing in a very limited beta began in the US for Microsoft’s VoIP subscription-based service, the company disclosed in a statement. Global telecom MCI has signed on with Microsoft to provide MCI Web Calling for Windows Live Call (what is it with Microsoft and mile-long product names, anyway?) Microsoft plans to extend the beta into Europe soon, with users in France, Germany, Spain, and the UK getting an opportunity to try out the service.

The service could get some impressive user numbers. Microsoft said it has 185 million MSN Messenger users worldwide. Windows Live and the forthcoming Office Live represent Microsoft’s move to enter the web services field, which some pundits have dubbed “Web 2.0.” Messenger is on the way to becoming a web service.

“Our customers are going to love this,” said Blake Irving, corporate vice president of the MSN Communication Services and Member Platform group at Microsoft. He may mean the pricing for the calling plan: initially, the cost for calls starts at a rate of $.023 per minute, roughly a penny every four and a half minutes. In contrast, Yahoo’s proposed service will charge a penny per minute for calls in the US.

Microsoft said MCI will handle the signup and attendant processes for MCI Web Calling over Windows Live Messenger (sheesh, why not just call it WiLMa, guys?) Through MCI, users can purchase prepaid calling time in $5, $10, or $25 blocks.

Like competing efforts from Yahoo, Google, and AOL, Microsoft wants to keep users within its network and brand of services. AOL’s relaunched AIM client, called Triton, works with AOL’s TotalTalk VoIP service, while Yahoo disclosed last week the service it plans to debut.

Google has not enter VoIP yet, but its experiments with click-to-call ads and Google Talk voice chat could be an indication that it may enter the field too.

David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Microsoft Calls MCI For VoIP
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