Microsoft today announced a global long-term partnership with MCI to offer pc-to-phone call services.
The service, MCI Web Calling for Windows Live Call will be available through the Windows Live Messenger, the upcoming version of MSN Messenger.
The companies are testing the service as part of a Windows Live Messenger limited beta, initially available only in the United States. Microsoft and MCI are expected to offer the service in France, Spain and UK within a few weeks.
The costs of the service, which will allow users to place calls to and from more than 220 countries, start at $.023 per minute to the US, Canada, the UK and Western Europe during the beta testing period.
"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."
Signing up will be done via the Windows LiveMessenger client, but MCI will manage customer registration, account management, customer support and billing.
Customers will purchase prepaid calling time from MCI in $5, $10 or $25 blocks for use with the service.
Recently, rumors circulated the Internet on Yahoo getting its own PC-to-phone service. Sources say that even though the service will not be free, it will be very cheap, probably close to a penny for a minute in the United States and less than 2 cents a minute for countries such as most European countries, China or Japan.
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