US software behemoth Microsoft is about to follow Google and Yahoo into the telecommunications sector by introducing an internet telephony service.

The software giant's new capacity to let users make calls from PCs to mobile or fixed-line telephones will be made possible by the purchase of minor independent company, Teleo, and its voice-over-IP (VoIP) technology. The acquisition comes hot on the heels of Google's unveiling of Google Talk, and mirrors the sale of Dialpad two months ago to Yahoo.

The recent purchases and introduction of new services herald a move by the dominant internet companies to develop sophisticated communications packages.

Microsoft and Yahoo instant messaging service customers will not be confined by the current system, and will be able to take advantage of a much broader telephone network. Google meanwhile aims to take advantage of other instant messaging services, without planning to launch its own standalone platform.

Data sourced from Financial Times online; additional content by WARC staff