RealTime IT News

Qwest Offers Windows Live

Qwest Communications  announced that, as of Wednesday, it is offering Microsoft's Windows Live services as an add-on to its residential broadband packages. The service is available in all 14 states that Qwest covers, following a "soft launch" in Colorado in May, a company official said.

Qwest also said it is the first telecommunications carrier in the U.S. to offer Windows Live with its broadband services. Dubbed Qwest Connect Broadband with Windows Live, the service combines Qwest's DSL-based broadband service with Microsoft's MSN Premium ISP service and includes co-branded Windows Live services.

The two companies first announced that Qwest would offer customers Windows Live services in June 2006. They did not disclose a delivery date at that time, however. The Denver-based telecommunications provider already offered broadband customers Microsoft's MSN service as an ISP.

New and existing Qwest residential broadband customers with MSN Premium service will get the new service for no additional cost.

Besides broadband, the new service provides customers with three basic components.

Qwest.Live.com gives users a customizable home page that includes Live Search always onscreen. Users can create custom home pages by picking from "hundreds" of gadgets, including many created by Qwest and its third-party partners to handle tasks such as displaying news, weather, entertainment, and sports, the statement said. Home pages can also include maps, videos, and email.

Microsoft's Windows Live OneCare is also included in the package. Live OneCare includes antivirus and antispyware scanners, anti-phishing technologies as well as a two-way firewall, and file backup and performance optimization features, according to Microsoft . Customers can also set parental controls, blacklist sites, monitor activity logs, and set usage limits.

The package also comes with Qwest's branded Qwest Mail by Windows Live, which is integrated into its Qwest.Live.com home page, providing single sign-on support for the service. The mail client, based on Windows Live Hotmail, provides a reading pane, an auto-complete feature and drag-and-drop capabilities.

"Customers wanted the functionality of Outlook but with the portability that Hotmail brought," Travis Leo, Qwest director of broadband product management, told internetnews.com.

Further, Qwest provides a one-letter e-mail domain called q.com, meant to enable customers to create personalized email addresses.

Additionally, the offering will be a foundation for Qwest's future voice and data convergence initiative. "Windows Live is the fundamental component for a lot of things we're going to do," Travis said.

For instance, he envisions features such as the ability to receive an instant message alert at work when someone leaves a message on the customer's home phone, as well as the ability to get voicemail and e-mail via the same client. In the future, Travis also sees gadgets to let users buy on demand content such as movies or screensavers.

Qwest's Broadband with Windows Live offering starts at $26.99 per month with a Qwest home phone package, or $31.99 without, according to a company spokesperson. Qwest's broadband service is DSL-based. Residential broadband speeds start at 1.5 Mbps.

The bulk of Microsoft's Windows Live services are free. However, through Microsoft, Windows Live OneCare costs $49.95 per year for up to three computers. Microsoft launched its Windows Live OneCare service last August.

Microsoft also announced Wednesday that it is shipping the first beta test copies of Windows Live OneCare 2.0.