Microsoft released more details of its VoIP plan for Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Search and Windows Live Messenger.
Microsoft said in a statement it plans to enable Windows Live Mail customers to right-click on their contacts' names in order to start a PC-to-PC or PC-to-phone voice or video conversation.
They are also planning on enabling some Windows Live Search customers to place a call to a search result directly from their PC.
Working with partners, including Royal Philips Electronics NV and Uniden America, Microsoft said it also plans to introduce new phones that connect to PCs, allowing consumers to make PC-to-PC and one-way, PC-to-phone calls using Windows Live Messenger.
The tie in between VoIP and Windows Live comes months after Microsoft beefed up its VoIP portfolio with the purchase of Teleo, a developer of VoIP, PSTN termination and click to call functionality.
Teleo's VoIP products allow for PC to PC calls as well as PC to landline calls. It also has a click-to-call feature that can be integrated with Microsoft's Outlook and Internet Explorer, enabling users to place a call from inside e-mail or even a Web page.
JupiterResearch Analyst Joe Wilcox thinks Microsoft may be playing catch-up.
"Google has some voice integration now with Google Talk and Gmail already," he told internetnews.com. (JupiterResearch and internetnews.com are owned by Jupitermedia.)
But still, with more and more Internet users accessing the Web via broadband, Wilcox thinks the move makes sense.
"Last year, we reached the crucial threshold where half the households with Internet access have broadband," he said, "Given that, voice, VoIP and video are the obvious next move."