Phone Bills Shrink as Consumers Use MSN Messenger 3.0 to Make More Than 3 Million Free Calls in First Two Weeks

REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 7, 2000 — With more and more families spread across the country and around world, monthly long-distance phone bills have become almost as inevitable as death and taxes.

Not anymore. Since MSN Messenger Service 3.0 was released July 20, callers have made more than 3 million phone calls using the new service. And all of the calls — no matter how many miles separated the callers or how long they talked — were free.

Callers spent a total of more than 9.3 million minutes talking. That’s equivalent to almost 232 months or 19 years. In that time, a person could make nearly 32,000 cross-country flights or watch 155,000 episodes of
if there were that many cast members to kick off the island.

With the new “Click to Talk” feature in MSN Messenger 3.0, users can make free long-distance calls and speak as well as type when sending instant messages.

“We knew that free long-distance service would be popular, but the demand has exceeded even our expectations,
“said Deanna Sanford, MSN lead product manager.”
The response to MSN Messenger 3.0 is solid proof that the public is hungry for innovative online services that provide new conveniences and save them money.

The newest version of MSN Messenger is an outgrowth of MSN’s popular instant messaging (IM) service introduced last year. It allows computer users to hold live, typed conversations over the Internet. Several IM providers have added voice services, but MSN Messenger is the first to let users make free long-distance calls within North America and from virtually anywhere in the world to the United States and Canada. Along with no service charge, there are no deposits.

It took Arlene Hollenbeck, a 59-year-old dental hygienist with no computer training, about five minutes to download the software and begin making free calls from her home in rural Iowa to her son in Portland, Ore.

“It was easy,”
she said.

She recently used MSN Messenger 3.0 to help arrange her high-school reunion. She called 25 former schoolmates, who live in other states, to remind them of the gathering.

“I just dialed their phone numbers through my computer, and it didn’t cost me a cent,”
she said.

To use the voice features in MSN Messenger 3.0, users need a computer with at least two megabytes of available computer disk space and a sound card. They also need speakers and a microphone, or a headset that combines both functions. The free MSN Messenger software can be downloaded at .

Judy Sande of Bellingham, Wash., was among the first to download the new software. She and her husband had grown accustomed to racking up $100 in long-distance bills every month, calling one daughter in Japan and another who lives several hours south of them near Seattle. Now, they’re finding other ways to spend that money.

“I’m putting it away for a plane ticket to Japan,”
Sande said

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