SEATTLE, May 23, 2006 —In November, Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates and Chief Technical Officer Ray Ozzie demonstrated two new Internet-based software services – Windows Live and Microsoft Office Live – designed to deliver rich and seamless new experiences to individuals and small businesses. Their vision was to combine the power of software plus Web services as compelling enhancements to Windows and Office products.
Since that preview only a few months ago, companies such as Uniden in the U.S. and Phillips in Europe have seized the opportunity provided by the new suite of services, and have already delivered new devices that take advantage of Windows Live to deliver compelling solutions to customers.
During his keynote today at the Microsoft Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) 2006, Gates announced that more partners are coming. Microsoft announced that Motorola is the newest hardware partner for Windows Live services and will ship dual-mode cordless phones later this year.
Gates also announced plans to make it easier than ever to build new hardware solutions for Windows Live services. Microsoft announced a new software development kit (SDK) from Microsoft that will be released in beta form later this summer, designed to give device creators the software tools they need to interface their devices with Windows Live services.
As part of plans to spur hardware innovation for services Microsoft also announced it has made an agreement with leading chip manufacturer DSP Group to create reference designs that will make it even easier for hardware developers to create devices for Windows Live.
Add all of this up – as well as news that these devices are being embraced by retailers – and Microsoft has collaborated with its hardware partners and retailers to create an entirely new platform – and market – for communications devices since Windows Live’s announcement just months ago, according to Ervan Pouliquen, senior product manager for Windows Live.
“In just over six months, we’ve been able to bring these devices to market and get them listed with major retailers,” says Pouliquen. “Now we’re making it easier for IHVs to tap into the Windows Live opportunity by providing an SDK to help with development and working with new value chain partners that can share their expertise and help accelerate IHVs’ time to market.”
To illustrate his point, Pouliquen points to wireless giant Motorola, which this week at WinHEC announced plans to deliver their own dual-mode cordless phone.
A “dual-mode” cordless telephone is a home phone that plugs into both a PC and a traditional telephone land line, enabling users to place calls through a traditional landline service or through the Internet. The Internet link from the phone can give users access to advanced Web services, as well as some very competitive options when it comes to long distance and international calling.
The new cordless handsets have the added advantage of compatibility with Windows Live Messenger, providing access to Windows Live Messenger contacts directly from the handset — from anywhere in the home.
“These phones can either do PC-to-PC calls to anyone else in the world who’s online, or very inexpensive PC-to-land line and mobile calls via Web Calling service with our partner, Verizon,” says Pouliquen. “But beyond calling they show IM presence, enable people to get notifications for email, IM and alerts, even if they are sitting on their couch.”
According to Michael Brannan, product manager for the Motorola Connected Home Solutions business, which develops broadband-enabled solutions designed to deliver uninterrupted access to entertainment and communication, the new phones provide users with the services they already enjoy through the Internet, but allow them to experience those services wherever they’re most comfortable, without being tethered unnecessarily to a PC.
“We see the telephone as a place where all of your communication and information can reside, rather than just a terminal that connects you to a land line,” says Brannan. “This device is one more example of how we’re looking to change the traditional cordless home phone into something that’s a little more functional, more two way, and more in step with all of the communications options that consumers have, such as Windows Live Messenger.”
And according to Pouliquen, the new phones fit into a broader spectrum of communications devices including headsets, webcams and more, all designed to work with Windows Live to create new, exciting and fun ways for consumers and small businesses to communicate.
“We want to make Windows Live available anytime, anywhere,” he says. “Motorola, Phillips and Uniden have found new ways to make home phones more clever, and some of the other devices our partners Microsoft Hardware, Plantronics and Logitech are working on, such as webcams and headsets, will facilitate a richer voice and video experience as well. It’s all about helping customers connect to the people and information that matters most to them, and to talk, see and share with their friends and family.”
“This is just the beginning,” he added. “We look forward to adding more partners and more technology into our Windows Live ecosystem to continually enhance our customers’ online experience.”
Hardware Developers Speak Up About Opportunities With Windows Live Services:
“The explosion of VoIP communications has created a real need for multifunctional headsets that provide great sound and audio clarity – and look stylish. Our partnership with Microsoft will provide Windows Live users with a complete solution for taking advantages of VoIP benefits, while using the same headset for other activities, such as gaming and music listening.”
– Matt Miller, director of Entertainment, Plantronics
“Each month, people spend more than 1 billion minutes in Windows Live video conversations. It’s clear that consumers are now embracing technologies that support relationship-centered digital communications. Microsoft Hardware and Windows Live are defining that movement with a new approach to integrated products and services that give consumers the power to have a richer digital communications experience and make everyday events extraordinary.”
– Tom Gibbons, corporate vice president, Consumer Productivity Experiences Group, Microsoft
“DSP Group is pleased to cooperate with Microsoft on creating a new paradigm for personal communication that combines voice, instant messaging and presence in one unified device, with cordless access across the home. I have no doubt that new personal communications emerging around instant messaging engines have a great future, considering the new exciting opportunities they create, and especially that there is a new generation of users who are used to communicating that way. This creates a new, additional, promising market for consumer electronic devices of a new type, combining all of that functionality in one wireless home appliance.”
– Victor Koretsky, corporate vice president of Sales and Marketing at DSP Group, a Global Leader in innovative Cordless Telephony and Residential Wireless solutions
“Logitech has worked closely with MSN in providing leading edge video capabilities to MSN Messenger users globally since 2003. We view Windows Live Messenger as the next generation platform for live video and audio communications and look forward to supporting it through the development of innovative user experiences that integrate with a wide range of Logitech audio and video products.”
– Gina Clark , vice president of Product Marketing, Internet Communications, Logitech, Inc.
“Philips is committed to working with key industry partners and providing consumers with an easy to use and enhanced communication and entertainment experience. Our relationship with Microsoft enables us to offer millions of WL Messenger users the latest VoIP products to enhance their freedom of communication. Our new VoIP headset and phone will help WL Messenger users communicate with friends, family members and co-workers – without being confined to their PC. Both products offer consumers features that will personalize their VoIP communications without compromising on the best-in-class innovative technologies.”
– Lucas Covers, senior vice president and chief marketing officer of Philips Electronics
“Together with Microsoft, Uniden is delivering a cutting-edge communications product to extend the benefits of Windows Live Messenger throughout the home or office. The Uniden WIN 1200 is a 5.8-GHz digital expandable cordless phone capable of making and receiving Internet calls via Windows Live Messenger. By providing notification options, such as online status for members of the user’s buddy list, on the Uniden cordless handset, Uniden is eliminating the need for consumers to remain attached to their computers for PC-to-PC communication. The integrated Uniden WIN 1200 not only enables customers to use the Windows Live interface, but also serves as a traditional landline phone, providing a variety of telephony options to consumers in a single unit and raising the bar in voice communications.”
– Rich Tosi, president of Uniden America Corporation