Microsoft joins list of companies accepting bitcoins

Microsoft has become the latest major corporation to begin accepting bitcoins, a virtual currency. Here's how it works.

Mark Lennihan/AP/File
A man arrives for the Inside Bitcoins conference and trade show in New York on April 7.

Hey Xbox lovers! Looking to buy the latest Call of Duty? Have some bitcoins lying around? You're in luck.

Microsoft will now accept bitcoins, a virtual currency, as a form of payment, starting today. You can also use them to buy things on Windows and a Windows phone. This opens up a huge new market for bitcoins. Microsoft's revenue for 2014 is expected to be more than $86 billion.

Bitcoin was created by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. The virtual currency has gained popularity over the years but remains more of a novelty than a major form of tender. Earlier this year, the Internal Revenue Service classified bitcoin is a form of property, not currency. 

“For us, this is about giving people options and helping them do more on their devices and in the cloud,” Eric Lockard, corporate vice president of Universal Store at Microsoft, said in a statement. “The use of digital currencies such as bitcoin, while not yet mainstream, is growing beyond the early enthusiasts. We expect this growth to continue and allowing people to use bitcoin to purchase our products and services now allows us to be at the front edge of that trend.”

Here's how it works: Bitcoins will now be an option for those looking to add money on their Microsoft account. You chose the amount of US dollars you want to add, and BitPay will calculate the amount of bitcoins you'll need. You can complete the transaction using your bitcoin wallet.

Microsoft is capping the daily limit of bitcoins to an equivalent of $1,000, and you can't add more than $5,000 a day to additional accounts you have registered.

Microsoft joins Amazon, Target, Whole Foods, and a list of other retailers that will accept bitcoin as a form of payment. 

Consumers should be aware, the price of bitcoins can fluctuate dramatically. The cryptocurrency was trading at more than $900 in January and is now trading at $354.

By the way, to all those football fanatics out there, North Carolina State will take on the University of Central Florida on Dec. 26 in the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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