Windows Live gets a LifeCam

New Webcam line designed for Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger seeks to make video calling commonplace. Photos: Webcams shoot the Messenger

Microsoft has announced a line of Webcams that work with its Windows Live Messenger program for video messaging or calling.

The announcement, made Tuesday, is not a complete surprise. In March, Microsoft voiced intentions to expand its voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, and video products as part of its push for Windows Live services.

LifeCam

The tentatively priced at $99.95, is capable of 5-megapixel (interpolated) still photography and 1.3-megapixel high-definition video. A 71-degree wide-angle lens allows for more than one person in the frame.

The LifeCam VX-3000 is capable of 1.3-megapixel (interpolated) high-definition still photography and 640-by-480-pixel resolution video. It comes in black and is estimated to be $49.95.

Both Webcams, available this August, have built-in noise-canceling microphones. They also come with software that integrates with Windows Live Messenger, Microsoft's instant-messaging and PC-to-phone calling application with video capability

Windows Live Messenger was released as a public beta version in May. A company representative said the official version would be available "soon" but did not give a specific date.

The LifeCam software includes features for automatic face tracking--to keep subjects in focus--and one-touch blogging. It enables people to instantly initiate a video chat with buddies currently online via a Windows Live buddy tool. There are also visual video effects like virtual snowing.

The recommended system requirements for running a LifeCam include a 1.4GHz Pentium 4 processor, 100MB of free hard-drive space, a USB 2.0 port and high-speed Internet access.

Microsoft's Hardware Group will play a significant role in the development of Windows Live Messenger, according to a statement by Martin Taylor , corporate vice president of Windows Live and MSN at Microsoft. Microsoft also plans to announce more LifeCam products this September.

PC maker Dell said on May 31 that it would offer an audio-video package for its new XPS M1210 and XPS M2010 computers that includes a Webcam with a microphone and Skype software for video conferencing.

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About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.

 

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