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Microsoft links up with MCI for PC-to phone service

LONDON - Microsoft is to unveil a computer-to-telephone call service as part of a relaunch of its MSN Messenger brand as Windows Live Messenger.

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The new service follows a link-up with telecoms firm MCI and will be a key selling point for Windows Live Messenger, which officially launches next year, but has been trialled since November.

The computer to phone link-up will initially launch in the US on a trial format of Windows Live Messenger and is expected to then be rolled out, with trials across in the UK, France, Germany and Spain within weeks.

Blake Irving, corporate vice-president of MSN communication services, said: "We are thrilled to work with a proven global technology provider like MCI to provide the bridge between PCs and phone with high-quality voice services that enable people to communicate more easily, conveniently and inexpensively."

Call charges in the US are to include one hour of free calls and a flat rate of 23 cents a minute to destinations globally, however, final pricing will not be decided until Windows Live Messenger's official launch next year.

Customers will also be able to buy prepaid blocks of call time from MCI as part of the deal. 

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