guest posted by Aleks
Hi all! I’m a Software Test Engineer working on Voice and Video features for Messenger. Away from work I mix sound live for local bands, and do lighting, set, and sound work in local community theater.
On with post:
A few months ago, my manager approached me with an offer I couldn’t refuse; to go to CES and demonstrate a new product we and our partners were finally announcing: the Windows Live Messenger Phone. I jumped at the opportunity, and now that we’ve made the announcement to the world I can fill some details.
Messenger has had free PC-to-PC voice calling for many releases now, and with 8.0 we have added a PC-to-Phone service. While these are great features, the one real drawback is that to use them, you have to stay sitting at your computer near your microphone and speakers or a wired headset. As soon as you wander over to the sofa or head outside to sit by the pool, you are disconnected from your friends and family who use Messenger to stay in touch with you.
The new Windows Live Messenger Phone acts as an extension to Messenger, letting you take your Voice experiences with you as you move around your house (or pool).
So what is it?
It’s a two-line phone. The first line plugs into a wall jack just like every other home phone you have. The second line is a USB connection to your computer. The base/charger stays near your PC but the handset is wireless, allowing you to take it all over your house. The WLM Phone will work right out of the box, no installation of drivers or control software. All you need is the latest version of Windows Live Messenger.
This phone is a one-stop shop for all your calling services. If you just pick up and dial like normal:
1. You can make a call using your local phone service.
2. You can also choose to open the Messenger interface. You’ll see your current buddy list displayed on phone’s color screen, including your contacts’ display names and up-to-date presence information. Selecting the buddy will give you the choice of:
Calling their PC – a free call anywhere in the world using our existing PC-PC calling feature.
If you have a stored phone number, and have signed up for WL Messenger’s PC-Phone service you can call them with that, anywhere in the world at discounted rates.
If you haven’t signed up for PC-Phone calling, you can still connect through your regular home phone service, as if you’d dialed your regular phone.
Also, when someone calls you from Messenger, the WLM Phone will ring, display information about the caller, and let you answer the call.
Who will make it?
We have partnered with Uniden in the US, and Philips in Europe, Asia, and Latin America to produce these devices. The Uniden phone is a 5.8GHz digital wireless model, designed for the Canadian, US, and Mexican markets, and the Philips is a 1.9GHz DECT model. Suggested prices for both are under $100.
Do people like it?
The Windows Live Messenger Phone was a big hit at CES. As we showed off how well it ties together phone and internet experiences, it was great to see peoples’ eyes light up.
When can I get it?
Look for these to become available soon after the final release of 8.0.