Microsoft is to announce details of its internet communications plans for Windows Live today. The details will be released at the Spring 2006 VON Conference & Expo in San Jose, California, according to the company.
Windows Live will incorporate internet voice and video capabilities for MSN and Windows Live Messenger. This will make the system competitive with communications tools made available by Google and Skype.
Microsoft's plan calls for free PC-to-PC voice-calling capabilities, and free "video conversation", or video with voice, within MSN Messenger, for which Microsoft has partnered with Logitech. In addition, Windows Live will offer a pay-for PC-to-phone calling system available through Windows Live, via a partnership between Microsoft and Verizon.
Microsoft's plans for Windows Live are a response to increasing market demand for communications functions. The company's MSN Messenger service hosted 800 million minutes of voice sessions during January of this year. In addition, it hosted almost 1.1 billion minutes of voice conversations, and 7 billion minutes of webcam-only sessions, Microsoft said.
Other features that Microsoft is testing for launch later this year include Windows Live Search, which will allow users to directly call entities found via an internet search, and Windows Live Messenger, which will allow PC-to-phone calling in conjunction with local telecom partners, the company said. It did not specify when these services might be available.