It looks as though Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) is getting a little help from its friends at iPass in order to offer Wi-Fi.
Reports surfaced last month that Microsoft is working on new service called Microsoft WiFi, details of which were leaked at microsoftwifi.com, which was subsequently pulled down. It described the service as offering "hassle-free Internet access around the world" so users can be "productive on the go."
Last week, in announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 10166, Microsoft said it is giving people in the Seattle area the chance to purchase paid Wi-Fi through the Windows Store via the Microsoft Wi-Fi app. "Right now, we're testing this experience out in Seattle but it'll soon open up to the rest of the U.S.," Microsoft GM Gabe Aul said in the blog post.
Asked if Microsoft is using an aggregator to offer access to Wi-Fi or if Microsoft itself was deploying all those hotspots, a spokesperson pointed to iPass, "which aggregates providers and networks to provide global connectivity to users."
Such an arrangement makes sense given the two companies announced a long-term agreement in February whereby iPass would offer global connectivity to users "of certain Microsoft products and services." The multi-year agreement gives Microsoft customers access to more than 18 million Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide while traveling, including airplanes, airports, hotels and other public areas.
According to the February announcement, eligible Microsoft customers will be able to use their existing Microsoft service credentials to automatically gain access to iPass' global Wi-Fi network without providing credit card information to unknown Wi-Fi providers in remote locations.
iPass, which boasts the world's largest global Wi-Fi network, declined to comment when contacted by FierceWirelessTech.
During the company's first-quarter conference call, iPass President and CEO Gary Griffiths said everything from "refrigerators to thermostats to automobiles are all going to be connected," and "they're logically going to be connected with Wi-Fi. And iPass is a logical choice, who else has 19 million hotspots around the world and an aggressive plan to make that even larger?," he said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
The Microsoft spokesperson said the company was not ready to reveal any other details about Microsoft Wi-Fi, saying "we'll share additional information when available. The information we have to share today is available on the blog."
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