Microsoft is working on a FaceTime competitor for Windows Phone [Update]

Microsoft had a solid CES appearance with the announcement of many new key products. But sometimes it’s not what’s said at the main events but in side conversations that can provide a peek into the upcoming products from the company.

At a high profile event, a key WP7 employee delivered, in an off comment fashion, a few tips about where the platform may be headed. One feature that was discussed was that Microsoft is working on a FaceTime type like application for Windows Phone platform.

The application is expected to be bundled into Microsoft’s Live services so that it can be propagated onto many devices and platforms. When the question was posed about why they would not just use Skype , the response was that the  FaceTime competitor will reach beyond the hand of Skype.

The news does not come as a major surprise as the idea is certainly plausible as Microsoft continues to fill out the feature set of the Windows Phone. The employee would not commit if the FaceTime like application would land on WP7 or WP8. It was hinted at, but not confirmed, that WP8 requirements may include a front facing camera.

[Update] To add further evidence to the chat application, @justinangel and @tomhounsell sent us the pic posted above from the Microsoft.Phone.Media.Extended.dll. The evidence clearly shows that Microsoft is working towards a front facing camera application for the platform.

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Xero said,
There never was a standard before. All devices used something unique. Apple was the first to create a standard for video calling by opening it up to others. Not to mention it's very good in terms of quality vs bandwidth. Microsoft should embrace their "enemy" here and allow WP7 devices to call iOS devices. Imagine seeing a headline saying you can FaceTime call between WP7, iPhones and Androids? That would be fantastic. Especially since its free to customers.

Also Microsoft's services will hardly dwarf Apple's. You're looking at close to 200 million devices capable (between macs, ipods, iphones and soon ipads) Besides how would you call an xbox? There's no camera or mic standard on any of them. Same with PCs, most don't have webcams or mics.

Most Laptops have a webcam built in, Every single Xbox ships with a headset for voice, Kinect can be used as a webcam, if people dont want a Kinect, you can purchase the Xbox Live vision Camera for cheap.

Not to mention Windows Live messenger is one of the most used IM's in the world. So yea, Im pretty sure they'd dwarf Apples Marketshare, even with the iPods, iPhones and the Facetime Beta on Macs.

/- Razorfold said,

Let's see. Only the latest iPhone / iPod touches have a front facing cameras (none of the old models do). The iPad doesn't have one yet. And Macbook Pros / iMacs have one. So that's already a drop in numbers since I don't think everyone who owns an iPhone / iPod has the latest model).

Now lets compare that to Microsoft. The next version of WP (if what this article says is true) will have front facing cameras. Almost every laptop / netbook made since god knows when have had a camera in them. Logitech, Microsoft and a bunch of other companies have been making popular external webcams for years now. With the Xbox MS can use Kinect as a potential webcam (not sure about this, so I could be wrong) and thats another 8 million (and rapidly growing) number to add.

So unless you can prove that most of the 500+ million people who use Windows Live don't have a webcam, stop talking out of your ass.


Apple sells more iPods/iPhones/iPads in 1 quarter than Microsoft has sold Xbox 360s in total. All Macs have cameras, including the basic MacBooks and MacBook Airs. Macs had built in cameras years before it became a standard on laptops (which it seems to be today) Also just because there have been hundreds if not thousands of webcams over the years, most people don't buy one. The difference is, for many years and even today, it's an optional upgrade. Apple on the other hand, forced it into all of their machines thus making it a standard across their devices.

And Razor let's keep it civilized here. No one is talking out of their asses, this isn't Ace Ventura! I can't prove most users aren't capable just the same as you can't prove they are. What I can prove is the bulk of pc users tend to purchase cheaper machines. Just look at sales statistics from any major oem. Hell go to Best Buy and see what machines people buy. Most go for the "hot deals" These people don't go out of their way and spend more money on extra add-ons. So while MSN and Microsoft services in general have a massive user base, very little will fully support a unified video chat service.

We're straying to far from the argument here. Even if Microsoft used FaceTime those same users wouldn't be capable of using it. My point was Apple has millions devices already capable of video chat and growing at a rate no one can compete with. If Microsoft used it they would instantly have a massive market regardless what hardware Windows Live users have. I'm an Apple user and I use MSN every day. I'd love to be able to do a video call with someone on MSN, a WP7 device or Android for that matter. Limiting it to specific devices is a recipe for failure (although bbm seems to be doing well) Apple opened it up in hopes others will adopt it for this very reason.

Apple sells more iPods/iPhones/iPads in 1 quarter than Microsoft has sold Xbox 360s in total. All Macs have cameras, including the basic MacBooks and MacBook Airs. Macs had built in cameras years before it became a standard on laptops (which it seems to be today)
And not all of those iPods, iPhones and iPads have cameras in them either...

---

Just going to point out something for you.

You want Microsoft (a DIRECT competitor to Apple) to support a proprietary video chat (yes the license for Facetime is proprietary still not open) on their products? So you want them to completely re-write their WLM video chat so it supports Facetime...you want them to code a FaceTime client for Windows (since one doesn't exist) and you want them to make one for WP7.

How exactly do you think businesses work? If Apple wanted to really promote Facetime they can easily code a WP7 app for it (when they get a front facing camer), they can easily code a windows application for it...but they haven't, and you're expecting a competitor to do that. Maybe next you'll say Microsoft should start selling Mac OS X for Apple too.

And why should they? They have a userbase that is larger than Apple's (I don't care what you see, pure numbers don't lie, and every single laptop that I see everyday at my school or at airports all have webcams in them) and they have a set of services that can integrate everything together.

If Microsoft successfully manages to pull off WL video chat integration the potential userbase will be more than anything you can hope for with Facetime. If Apple wants some of that userbase, they can go ahead and code a Facetime client that isn't limited to only WiFi. Or they could make Facetime open, because it still isn't.

My point was Apple has millions devices already capable of video chat and growing at a rate no one can compete with.

They do? Then why has iOS' marketshare dropped 10% since this time last year? Why are Android devices outselling Apple ones? Sure there are more phones/devices running Android on multiple carriers than iOS..but nobody stopped Apple from licensing out iOS...they made the choice not to, and that's their problem. Not Google's, not Microsoft's.

Alright, lets try and make this short and sweet so we don't keep going on and on

1. You're right, not all of them, but the iPhone and iPod touch make up the majority and they do. iPad soon will.

2. Competitors or not, this will boost sales for both of companies and benefit consumers greatly. Not everyone has the same type of phone (and thats a good thing) However people should be able to communicate between devices with more than just voice/text.

3. No, I meant support it within its default applications, both on the phone and desktop. They will most likely have to re-write something regardless if they opt for an in-house solution or Apple's. This isn't about Microsoft selling Apple products or vice versa. It's about Microsoft products talking to Apple products. Just because their competitors doesn't mean their customers have to hate each other! Apple has a great foundation with FaceTime. Microsoft supporting it would only make it that much better. FaceTime is for us, not Apple or Microsoft. As users we want to communicate with as many people as possible, not a select few. Apple, Google, Microsoft everyone should use the same standard. If Microsoft makes their own, then Google will likely follow. Thus alienating users by only allowing video chat with users who own the same phone (or software). FaceTime is great regardless if who came up with it. It's finished, a done deal. Microsoft and Google don't have anything in place yet. Why make something proprietary when there's something universal thats great? What can they possibly offer? Not much room for advancement in video chat. Unless they wanna give us Star Wars holographic chats (yes please!)

4. Let's not get into sales stats. That brings out the worst in everyone. Some say Android is growing faster, some say iOS. Let's just say both are growing faster than Microsoft's offerings?

2. Competitors or not, this will boost sales for both of companies and benefit consumers greatly. Not everyone has the same type of phone (and thats a good thing) However people should be able to communicate between devices with more than just voice/text.
They already can. It's called UMTS video calling. It's called Skype. It's called Qik. Should I go on?

3. No, I meant support it within its default applications, both on the phone and desktop. They will most likely have to re-write something regardless if they opt for an in-house solution or Apple's. This isn't about Microsoft selling Apple products or vice versa. It's about Microsoft products talking to Apple products. Just because their competitors doesn't mean their customers have to hate each other! Apple has a great foundation with FaceTime. Microsoft supporting it would only make it that much better. FaceTime is for us, not Apple or Microsoft. As users we want to communicate with as many people as possible, not a select few. Apple, Google, Microsoft everyone should use the same standard. If Microsoft makes their own, then Google will likely follow. Thus alienating users by only allowing video chat with users who own the same phone (or software).
Tell Apple to open up FaceTime then. Or tell Apple to follow some of the standards that already exist (like UMTS video calling) rather than copying something and making up fancy names (DLNA vs. AirPlay). Or tell Apple to license WL or another format (which they very well could have done, but nope they had to go create another one).

FaceTime is great regardless if who came up with it. It's finished, a done deal. Microsoft and Google don't have anything in place yet.
Yeh ok, keep sipping your koolaid.

See now why do you gotta say something like that lol. Don't make things so personal, we're just having a chat, not attacking each other. Tell me though, what could they possible add that would make it better than FaceTime? Video chat is pretty simple. Good video, good audio, and good transfer. What else is there? I'm curious what you think Microsoft (or anyone else) could bring to the table.

FaceTime is open btw, that was actually the whole point of this and it.

Xero said,
See now why do you gotta say something like that lol. Don't make things so personal, we're just having a chat, not attacking each other. Tell me though, what could they possible add that would make it better than FaceTime? Video chat is pretty simple. Good video, good audio, and good transfer. What else is there? I'm curious what you think Microsoft (or anyone else) could bring to the table.
So why did Apple have to go create another one?

FaceTime is open btw, that was actually the whole point of this and it.
Is it?
License: Proprietary

Apple SAID they will make it an Open Standard sometime in the future, but they haven't yet. And:
Apple understands the success of WebKit, but it's not yet clear that it's ready to give away software to competitors when it doesn't absolutely have to. That might result in a variety of implementations of FaceTime-compatible devices that all have various bugs that impede interoperability. Of course, such a situation might benefit Apple, too, making it the primary vendor of reliable FaceTime phones.

Fair enough, I was going by what El Jobso said on stage in June when he revealed it. Haven't bothered to follow through with it. Shame on Apple than if they haven't yet opened it up. Locking it down doesn't benefit them. However you didn't answer me. What benefit is there with developing another standard? You seem to be arguing that its better for Microsoft to develop their own than use another's.

Xero said,
What benefit is there with developing another standard? You seem to be arguing that its better for Microsoft to develop their own than use another's.
What benefit is there to Microsoft for using FaceTime when they have their own format and their own services to integrate with?

Sure you can say that if Microsoft ports everything over to FaceTime they can reach all the iOS users, but what about the extra cost in licensing it? The extra costs in changing everything over to FT?

Imo it's far more beneficial for MS to use UMTS video calling for phone to phone calls (since that will work with almost every 3G phone ever made) and also allow WL for those who want to use that. Skype / Qik can then be later added in via their own respective apps.

Heh, I like how you managed to avoid answering it twice. I don't think there are enough words in the english language to change your mind so I'll stop trying. Next time we do this we need to have a beer in hand. It'll make the whole thing more pleasant

Xero said,
Heh, I like how you managed to avoid answering it twice. I don't think there are enough words in the english language to change your mind so I'll stop trying. Next time we do this we need to have a beer in hand. It'll make the whole thing more pleasant
You still haven't managed to tell me why its beneficial for Microsoft to use FaceTime when they already have a perfectly valid video format.

If the iPhone doesn't support WL or UMTS video calling its not Microsoft's fault. So tell me what benefit was there for Apple to make their own format?

Oh I get it. If Apple makes their own format like they've already done twice in the past (Airplay and FaceTime) then everything is good. But if Microsoft do it, then they're the devil and a bunch of idiots. Gotcha.

Alright, last one. We both have better things to do than argue about something that doesn't even exist yet. I'll even let you have the last word!

The benefit is Apple's already very large and rapidly growing install base. Apple will not support another format. So if Microsoft or anyone else wants access to their users, this is how they do it. FaceTime is very good, it's not like they'd need to lower their standards to use it.

Apple is special, they like to do everything themselves (not that I agree) In this case however, they have developed something and are going to allow others to use it too. Considering how popular Apple is and not likely to slow down (we can argue over that statement later) It would make sense to use their standard than to develop another. Especially since embracing it doesn't hurt either company. It only benefits the users of both platforms. Think Valve's Steam. Mac and PC users can play the same games. This is very good. Creating their own closed system out of spite seems silly. No one is the devil, no one is stupid. It just seems unnecessary.

Xero said,

The benefit is Apple's already very large and rapidly growing install base. Apple will not support another format. So if Microsoft or anyone else wants access to their users, this is how they do it. FaceTime is very good, it's not like they'd need to lower their standards to use it.

Let's break it down shall we?

UMTS video calling is supported by:
- Symbian (greatest smartphone OS marketshare)
- Android (fastest growing smartphone OS)
- A lot of dumb phones that have a front facing camera
(possibly even Palm, RIM but I'm not sure about those)

WL video calling supported by:
- 500+ million users

Facetime supported by:
- Only Apple and their, what you claim, 200 million users.

Hm, which looks like a better option? The one that has more supported handsets and users, or the one that's limited to Apple's products? So maybe it should be Apple that supports another format, and not the other way around.

/- Razorfold said,
Tell Apple to open up FaceTime then. Or tell Apple to follow some of the standards that already exist (like UMTS video calling) []

FaceTime is open. And as far as I can see, UMTS video calling costs money, and a lot of money (actually one minute of video calling is about 10 times more expensive than a normal call). FaceTime is free. Maybe you all have too much money, but I don't.

Islander said,

FaceTime is open. And as far as I can see, UMTS video calling costs money, and a lot of money (actually one minute of video calling is about 10 times more expensive than a normal call). FaceTime is free. Maybe you all have too much money, but I don't.

If you bothered reading the bunch of replies above you'll see that Facetime is not open, at least not yet.

And as for facetime being free, well no **** it only runs on WiFi? And if UMTS video calling over 3g is too expensive for you there's other options like Skype, Qik etc...still see absolutely no reason to use FaceTime.

Xero said,
Alright, last one. We both have better things to do than argue about something that doesn't even exist yet. I'll even let you have the last word!
There is no benefit to Microsoft to work with Apple to use a supposedly open standard that is not open at all. It only makes Apple look better and it causes them pain to get it out of Apple.

I completely agree that there should be one universal standard. Now that Apple has proven that they are unwilling to remove their choke-hold on the standard, it is clear to me, as an iPhone 4 owner that owned three bad Samsung Focus' in a row (had to return them due to faulty hardware, but I loved the software) before going back, that Apple does not deserve that power, nor is it in anyones (except Apple) best interest to have them in that position.

At this point, Apple can support Microsoft's or Google's standard (though I don't think Google has a true standard yet, rather a bunch of different approaches). I assume once another real standard comes out, then Apple will release theirs silently and then tout the openness of the FaceTime standard.

What a waste of time and energy. Microsoft should focus there efforts on other things.

Facetime sucks for iPhone because it's only on WiFi. People do yourself a favor and install Skype on your Android's and iPhone's. That will be the dominant app of choice for video calling on Smartphones by the summer time.

Forgive me on this, but Microsoft hasn't even completely mastered voice communication, my XBOX 360 can talk to my windows live friends, I have a Microphone hooked up to my XBOX controller, Windows Live Messenger supports voice chat, yet, I am forced to type to my Windows Live friends. I want to see the XBOX let me voice call my WLM friends before a Windows Phone can facetime...

I've used FaceTime on my 7mb/s line, and the quality is not great. Sure it's workable, but average quality at best. Later that day I video called someone on a PC from my Xbox 360 using my kinect as my webcam, and it was crystal clear, brilliant quality, why did Apple have to go and make their own standard, it makes no sense for the whole world to change themselves to adopt Apples still closed format.

As I said before, my ancient video phone could call any phone that had that capability, why didn't they use that format for video calls? It can clearly reach the largest audience, or if not that, Microsofts format, which can reach most of the consumer PC's and the Xbox 360's. Lets not forget the the Market of iOS devices that support FaceTime is still tiny in comparison, made slightly larger by releasing the client for Mac, but still, its only roughly 8% of the computer Market share.

I hate the people who scream that the world should change for Apple, its the same people who scream that the Internet should all change for Apple, because of Flash's lousy performance on Mac. When it works brilliantly on Windows, and from what I hear, Linux. Maybe if Apple had helped Adobe like Microsoft did, Flash wouldn't suck on Mac. But no, I see people saying "Its all up to Adobe! Apple shouldn't have to help, Adobe are lazy!"

Perhaps I spend too much time on Mac Rumors.... Ok rant over.

Video calling has been around for years I don't get why when people talk about it they seem to think Apple invented it. I have used Facetime a few times and the quality is really poor and takes forever to connect to the other user.

It is a real shame there is not an open standard that all these companies can use so it doesn't matter what device you have you can contact any other phone with video calling abilities.

Extremely good idea: Every company should come up with its own standard, with no way to use video calls between different platforms.

.Neo said,
Extremely good idea: Every company should come up with its own standard, with no way to use video calls between different platforms.
What I meant to say was why didnt Apple use an existing standard that already has a much larger marketshare, instead of creating their own that seems to have no advantage over the competition and try to get people to change over to it.

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