REDMOND, Wash., and ASHBURN, Va. — Dec. 12, 2005 — Microsoft Corp. and MCI Inc. (NASDAQ: MCIP) 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 $.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 customers.”
Instant Messaging: More Than Text
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 $5, $10 or $25 blocks for use with the service.
About MSN and Windows Live
MSN attracts more than 440 million unique users worldwide per month. With localized versions available globally in 42 markets and 21 languages, MSN is a world leader in delivering compelling programmed content experiences to consumers and online advertising opportunities to businesses worldwide. Windows Live, a new set of personal Internet services and software, is designed to bring together in one place all the relationships, information and interests people care about most, with enhanced safety and security features across their PC, devices and the Web. MSN and Windows Live will be offered alongside each other as complementary services. Some Windows Live services entered an early beta phase on Nov. 1, 2005; these and future beta updates can be found at http://ideas.live.com. MSN is located on the Web at http://www.msn.com. MSN worldwide sites are located at http://www.msn.com/worldwide.ashx.
About MCI Inc.
MCI, Inc. (NASDAQ: MCIP) is a leading global communications provider, delivering innovative, cost-effective, advanced communications connectivity to businesses, governments and consumers. With one of the most expansive global IP backbones and wholly-owned data networks, MCI develops the converged communications products and services that are the foundation for commerce and communications in today’s market. For more information, go to www.mci.com.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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