Verizon Web Calling has powered the VOIP integration in Windows Live Messenger since the public beta of v8 early last year, though the service is at best is described as basic. However last week users of Web Calling received an email from Verizon customer services, informing them that the joint service is to be terminated next year. Whether Microsoft partners with another telecoms company or they instead opt to provide their own voice platform hasn't been confirmed, though we've heard that it may be the latter.
So what does this change mean for Microsoft's voice and video aspirations? Well with the launch of Windows Live Messenger 8.5 this week, extending their VOIP offerings via a different platform would be a great addition to a new client version. The existing outbound-only calling is just not enough for users that prefer voice over text and so to remain competitive the new in-house service would need to provide an inbound option just for starters. Yahoo! has offered users a choice of USA or UK phone numbers for about 2 years now, which is incredibly convenient for those who travel globally and don't want to have multiple contact numbers, or those who want to speak to their international friends without paying premium rates.
Existing users of the Verizon WebCalling service are able to claim back any unused funds and will be alerted in the future once a final end date for the service has been agreed.
For reference here's the email as sent by Verizon:
Dear Verizon Web Calling Customer,