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Verizon adds Windows Live services

New contract expands partnership to include Microsoft's Windows Live products for Verizon's DSL, Fios customers.

Verizon users will soon have more choices when setting up their broadband service.

Microsoft and Verizon announced Tuesday that Microsoft Windows Live services will be available to Verizon DSL and Verizon Fios customers early next year. In the meantime, MSN Premium services will continue to be offered to current subscribers, according to a joint statement from the companies.

"With the co-branded offering, customers get the best of both worlds. The broadband users have the applications that they can use their speed for. They get a lot of premium services to add extra value for the customer, and our research has shown that customers who use our co-branded services are much more loyal customers and they are more satisfied," said Bobbi Henson, a spokeswoman for Verizon.

Windows Live is Microsoft's new host of applications and services, which in some cases overlap and compete with Yahoo and Google applications. Many of these applications have been offered for free, with additional services offered at a premium.

As part of the deal between Verizon and Microsoft, Verizon customers will have the option of using a co-branded Verizon-Live.com home page, a Verizon-Windows Live Search page, and can use Windows Live Mail as their Verizon e-mail account. They will also receive a Windows Live Toolbar, a co-branded version of Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live OneCare safety scanner--a feature of Microsoft's antivirus software.

Verizon has had a partnership with Microsoft since 2002, when the companies first agreed to offer a co-branded service with MSN 8. MSN 8 evolved into MSN Premium, and now it's evolving into Windows Live, Henson said. This latest agreement is simply an upgrade of the partnership because of the new Microsoft Live services that are available, she said.

Henson noted, however, that the contract is not exclusive and that Verizon users will not automatically be led to the Microsoft Windows Live services portal. When Verizon customers sign up for services and register their online preferences, they're presented with a menu offering a choice of portals with Verizon partners. While customers can set their portal preference to anything they like, the menu presents Verizon, Microsoft and Yahoo as their initial choices. If customers choose nothing then they default to Yahoo, per Verizon's agreement with the company.