MSN Adds Voice Capabilities to Messenger

Microsoft Corp. Thursday unveiled a new version of its Internet instant messaging service, MSN Messenger Service 3.0, that utilizes Net2Phone Inc. PC-based client software to allow users free long distance phone calls to the United States and Canada.

The new messenger includes a “call” button used for PC-to-PC or PC-to-phone calls. Net2Phone said PC-to-PC calls are free to anywhere in the world, and PC-to-phone calls are free for calls to any telephone in the U.S. or Canada.

The software is embedded into the MSN Messenger software, all users need to place an Internet phone call (aside from a computer and Internet connection) is a sound card, microphone and speakers. The MSN Messenger allows users to list their telephone numbers in their profiles.

“Our integration with MSN Messenger Service makes the convergence of the Internet and the Telephone network a reality,” said Jonathan Fram, president of Net2Phone.

“By embedding the most natural form of conversation — voice — with MSN Messenger, we believe users will experience a new dimension in instant messaging and will use the service even more. Not only does the inclusion of Net2Phone in MSN Messenger make the product richer, but it also adds a layer of functionality by enabling MSN users to call their contacts either on the PC or on the telephone.”

Fram added that MSN Messenger’s call capabilities should not hurt Net2Phone’s own business.

“Most of our business is international, so we don’t see this adversely affecting our business,” he said.

He also noted that America Online will soon have a similar service incorporating Net2Phone software. AOL’s service will cost one penny per call.

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