Talk about being slow to the game... you know you missed the press release when your eight year old calls you and asks "hey, what's this thing that I found on Windows Live?"
When you search for a business on Windows Live Local, click on the business name in the left-hand column to open a window with more info, and you'll see a "call for free" option that lets you initiate a free call with the business....
Microsoft Corporati3350 157th Ave NE, Redmond, WA 98052
(425) 882-8080 Call For Free (800) 892-3181 (Toll Free Number)
In the resulting window that opens, just type in your phone number and Windows Live sets up the call to the business and forwards it to your number. It's just that simple... no long set up procedure. From the Windows Live Help web site...
"When you see the Call for Free name on a business' website, you can use Call for Free to make a free telephone call to the business, even long-distance. To place a free telephone call to a business:"
- Click Call for Free on the business' website.
- In the Call for Free box, enter the ten-digit telephone number of the telephone you want to use for the call, and then click Call. At present, only U.S. telephone numbers are supported.
- After a few moments, your telephone rings, and you are connected with the participating business. Click Close to close the Call for Free window.
This beta version of Windows Live Call for Free is US only as far as I can find, and is great when you don't want to make what would be a toll call to the business. Sorry, Canada.
As noted on Microsoft Watch, the Feedback.Live.Com site lists more than 40 Windows Live services and sites, as Windows Live Platform Product Planner Ken Levy blogged.
It would be great if you could add a "Windows Live Local Calls" page to your Windows Live home page, and save these calls as a directory for regularly-made phone calls. And good if you could select "call for free" and make a call from the hover window you see when you mouse over the business listing in the results list, rather than having to open a new window.