SAN JOSE, Calif. — March 15, 2006 — Today at the Spring 2006 VON Conference & Expo, Microsoft Corp. will outline its vision for extending IP communications capabilities throughout Windows Live™ services to support relationship-centric communication via voice and video for consumers worldwide.
Blake Irving, corporate vice president of the MSN Communication Services and Member Platform group, will detail the company’s voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) strategy and vision for Windows Live in his keynote speech Thursday afternoon. Spring VON Expo is the largest VoIP exhibition in the world, with more than 300 companies showcasing their voice-data communications technology and products.
“Our mission with Windows Live is to deepen people’s relationships with whomever and whatever matters most to them,” Irving said. “We will get there by working closely with the whole ecosystem of telecommunications, Internet services and hardware manufacturing partners to build a complete presence- and contact-centric communications experience. Voice and video will play a critical role as a data type that brings relationships to life online, taking us from an era of black and white to Technicolor.”
Microsoft today offers customers free video conversation (integrated audio and video) powered by Logitech and free PC-to-PC voice capabilities powered by Microsoft® technology via MSN® Messenger. In addition, Windows Live Messenger includes one-way PC-to-phone calling capabilities in several markets that are part of a pay-for-use service provided by Verizon.
The company has seen a sharp uptick in customer use of voice and video services over the past six months, including record usage in January. MSN Messenger hosted voice sessions totaling more than 800 million minutes in January 2006. Video usage on the service is currently growing even faster than voice usage alone, with video conversation connecting customers for almost 1.1 billion minutes in January. In addition, stand-alone webcam usage totaled an additional 7 billion minutes in January.
“More than 20 million users on average are using our voice conversation service in MSN and Windows Live Messenger each month,” Irving said. “While the number is impressive, it’s only a small portion of our 205 million active MSN Messenger users each month. There is still a lot of room to grow.”
Microsoft continues to invest in voice and video, with the following scheduled to be available to customers later this year:
Windows Live Mail. Microsoft Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta is a new, upcoming free e-mail client built to work seamlessly with the new Windows Live Mail service. Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta with other Windows Live services will enable customers to right click on their contacts’ names to start a PC-to-PC or PC-to-phone voice or video conversation with them directly from e-mail.
Windows Live Search. Microsoft will test voice functionality with Windows Live Search, enabling some customers to place a call to a search result directly from their PC.
Windows Live Messenger. To make using voice capabilities more natural with Windows Live, Microsoft is working with partners including Royal Philips Electronics NV (in select countries in Europe, and in Australia, New Zealand and Latin America) and Uniden America Corporation (for North America) to introduce new phones that connect to a PC and will allow consumers to make PC-to-PC and one-way PC-to-phone calls using Windows Live Messenger or traditional telephone calls using their existing service provider.
Irving will outline Microsoft’s plans to continue to integrate voice and video capabilities throughout Windows Live services, with contacts playing a critical role in how the services are introduced.
“Windows Live Contacts will act as the ‘plumbing’ that brings life to the relationships between people’s online contacts and the services they use,” Irving said. “With more than 13 billion contacts in people’s online address books today, our goal with Windows Live is to enable people to take instant action on any of their online contacts across our services. Voice and video remain a central ‘action’ in our Windows Live vision of enabling rich, seamless and simplified connections that make people’s online world better.”
About MSN and Windows Live
MSN attracts more than 465 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. Windows Live is available at http://www.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.
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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