Thursday, 04 June 2015 11:36

Microsoft lets global Wi-Fi plans leak Featured

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Partner or competitor? Partner or competitor?

Microsoft has leaked plans through a new website to massively expand its Skype WiFi service into a new global offering called Microsoft WiFi. The leak was probably deliberate in an attempt to get some buzz happening about the new service.

Acting a tip from a Twitter user tech news tracking site VentureBeat managed to capture a screenshot of an ad for Microsoft WiFi on a site called microsoftwifi.com before Microsoft deleted it. Microsoft has since confirmed to VentureBeat that it is working on the new service and the microsoftwifi.com site is up but blank.

Skype WiFi enables Skype users to log on to one of two million designated Skype WiFi hotspots around the world, including several hundred spread across Australian capitals and regional centres, and pay for Internet connections using their Skype credit.

According to VentureBeat a Microsoft spokesperson said that the Microsoft WiFi service would be available to ‘millions’.

So what will make Microsoft WiFi different to Skype WiFi?

Once again, according to VentureBeat, Microsoft WiFi will be an expansion from Skype’s current two million to 10 million hotspots across 130 countries using partnership deals with local Wi-Fi providers. The ad reads:

“Don’t waste time filling forms with personal information or managing different carriers to get connected. Sign in once and you are done: you will automatically be connected to a vast range of WiFi providers around the world.”

As well as Skype subscribers, VentureBeat says, the Microsoft WiFi service will also be available to staff at organisations that use Office 365 for Enterprise and ‘customers who receive a special Microsoft WiFi offer’.

Like Skype WiFi, users will be able to locate Microsoft Wi-Fi hotspots through an online interactive map.

The CEO of WLAN vendor Xirrus Shane Buckley welcomed the news of Microsoft’s expansion into the Wi-Fi market with a touch of caution.

“At face value, this will be a great addition for Microsoft customers,” Buckley said.

“The challenge for Microsoft is ensuring the customer experience on these global Wi-Fi networks is consistent with the tier-1, high quality brand. Oftentimes, these Wi-Fi hotspots provide ‘best efforts’ to customers, which miss the customers’ expectations by a mile. Microsoft needs to ensure it partners with global providers to provide a positive experience.”

Telstra is about to finish its free national Wi-Fi trial on 14 June. The question is whether Microsoft is having discussions with Australia’s dominant carrier over a partnership arrangement or whether it will be a competitor.

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Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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