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Microsoft Adds Webcams To Hardware Line

Both Webcams will be tied to the Windows Live Messenger instant messenger client, which is currently in beta.
Microsoft on Tuesday unveiled a pair of Web cameras as the newest additions to its hardware line that, until now, has kept to keyboards and mice.

Both the LifeCam VX-3000 and LifeCam VX-6000 will be tied to Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger instant messenger client; the two sport a button that launches a video chat session using the IM software, for instance. Live Messenger is currently in beta testing, and can be downloaded from the Microsoft Web site.

Priced at $49.95 (VX-3000) and $99.95 (VX-6000), the devices also include a console for controlling the camera, including panning and zooming. They also integrate Live Spaces, Microsoft's blogging service, for one-click photo posting.

The Webcams are a joint effort by Microsoft's hardware division and its MSN group, which is responsible for the Web-based service line carrying the "Live" label.

"It made sense to extend our partner ecosystem to include internal businesses that deliver solutions that bring relationships to life online," said Martin Taylor, corporate vice president of Windows Live and MSN, in a statement. "Our work with the Microsoft Hardware team will play a significant role in the growth of Windows Live Messenger and help us deliver on our promise of deepening people's relationships with whomever and whatever matters most to them."

The LifeCams are priced competitively with models from other vendors, such as Logitech. The Swiss-based company's QuickCam Fusion, for instance, retails for $99.99, and like the VX-6000 is a 1.3-megapixel camera.

Microsoft won't ship the cameras until August, but online retailer Amazon.com is taking pre-orders.

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