Microsoft and MCI Join to Deliver Consumer PC-to-Phone Calling

Microsoft and MCI have 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 companies say their solution combines Windows Live software, advanced 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.”