Microsoft gives Live voice to mobile devices

New toolkit will let vendors include Windows Live voice services on mobile devices

Microsoft will let vendors include Windows Live voice services on mobile devices through a new toolkit that will be available in the next few months.

The move is part of Microsoft's push to offer Windows Live Messenger and other services on phones and portable devices in order to drive more traffic to the ad-driven, Web-based Windows Live services, said Ervan Pouliquen, global marketing manager for Microsoft's Mobile Devices Division.

"The point is deepening the engagement," he said Tuesday at Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference in Seattle. "The more time people spend on our services and engaged with our services, the more we'll be able to monetize through advertising on the client. We think it will drive more people to the PC."

A beta of the SDK (software development kit ) will be available in the summer, which to Microsoft means July through September. The kit provides APIs (application programming interfaces) and other software to help companies build devices to work with the voice services of Windows Live messenger.

Microsoft launched its plan to build out a set of Web-based services to rival Google last November and rebranded many of what had been MSN services, such as its IM (instant-message) client and search engine, under the Windows Live moniker. Like Google, Microsoft is deriving revenue from the services through online advertising. Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has said he wants his company to be No. 1 in online advertising revenue, even if it takes company years to get there.

Brooke Richardson, an MSN product manager, said providing voice services is just the beginning of Microsoft's plan to allow vendors to offer Web-based Windows Live services on a host of devices.

"As Windows Live matures and our platform matures we’ll be able to open up more APIs for software and hardware developers," she said.

Microsoft partners Philips Electronics and Uniden America already offer VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) phones equipped with Windows Live Messenger that allow users to make calls using the IM client. The Philips phone is available in Europe, while Uniden's phone is available in Best Buy stores in the U.S. The cordless handsets are dual-mode, which means they plug into a PC and a traditional telephone line.

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