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Qwest, Microsoft join forces on Web services
Denver telco to offer Windows Live on its high-speed lines
Adrian Brown Bloomberg News
By Joyzelle Davis
Rocky Mountain News
Wednesday, June 6, 2006

Qwest Communications will be the first U.S. telecommunications company to offer Microsoft's Windows Live Web services, including its new suite of security software, to high-speed Internet customers.  The Denver-based telco and Microsoft, which have had a joint- branding agreement within Qwest's 14-state region for the past five years, say the services will launch sometime later this year.  Among the changes Qwest's 1.7 million broadband subscribers will notice is the ability to customize their home page and software that automatically backs up computer files.

"It's so much more flexible and dynamic - it offers unlimited possibilities," said Scott Russell, Qwest's product director of high-speed Internet.

Windows Live is Microsoft's brand name for a set of mostly free Web-based products that compete with similar services from companies such as Google Inc. and Yahoo! Inc.

Microsoft last week launched its computer maintenance package Windows Live OneCare, a suite of security and PC performance software that includes anti-virus and anti-spyware protections as well as automatic data backup and a program that self-diagnoses computer problems.  Qwest will offer OneCare, a subscription service that costs $50 a year, free to customers.

Qwest and MSN's current partnership includes e-mail accounts, junk mail filters and Microsoft rival McAfee Inc.'s Internet virus scanning.

Qwest customers will have the choice of sticking with the MSN and McAfee offering or switching to Windows Live when it launches.

MSN's Live also allows customers to customize their home page with features including weather and the ability to monitor their Qwest account.  While Internet services have long allowed users to customize their home page, Microsoft has worked to make MSN Live a more graphic-rich interface that's "very intuitive," said Quin Nikel, director of partner product management for Microsoft's Windows Live.

Windows Live will initially be offered as a co-branded Qwest product only on personal computers, but "given the strategic nature of the partnership" that may expand to other platforms, Russell said.

Qwest's broadband subscriber growth

Q1 2006   1.7 million

Q4 2005   1.5 million

Q3 2005   1.3 million

Q2 2005   1.2 million

Q4 2004   1 million

Q3 2004   956,000

Q2 2004   853,000

Q1 2004   744,000

Q4 2003   637,000

Q1 2002   484,000

Q4 2001   448,000

Source: Qwest Communications

davisj@RockyMountainNews.com or 303-892-2514.

http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/tech/article/0,2777,DRMN_23910_4753055,00.html