Microsoft is preparing to introduce an internet telephone service allowing calls from PC's to fixed-line or mobile telephones, extending the rapid advances by internet rivals such as Yahoo! and Google into the communications business.
The software company will today announce the acquisition of Teleo, a small private company whose voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology will extend the range of Microsoft's existing internet communications services. The deal echoes the acquisition by Yahoo! two months ago of Dialpad and comes a week after Google launched a service called Google Talk that connects users over the PC.
The Microsoft and Yahoo! acquisitions will let users of their instant messaging services connect to the wider telephone network. Google, while not yet adding such a feature, has said it plans to at least link to other instant messaging services.
Microsoft have not yet decided how to charge for the service, but say options could include looking at charging subscriptions and fees or linking ads to the service.
This push by the big internet protals into VoIP telephony looks very interesting and is yet another knock to fixed line telco's. We look forward to when VoIP extends itslef effectively into mobile telephony as well.
Oh, and a last tip. Skype looks like a better and better bet for someone like Google or even AOL to snap up!
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