Microsoft, Nortel to launch new products

New York: Microsoft Corp. and Nortel Networks Corp have announced the launch of three new product packages. Six months ago the companies had announced they would develop products for the business market together.

The products include UC Integrated Branch, an Internet telephone and communications exchange for branch offices, scheduled for the fourth quarter; Unified Messaging, scheduled for release in the second quarter, as well as Conferencing, which adds features from Nortel Multimedia Conferencing to Microsoft Office Communicator 2007. Conferencing will hit the market in the fourth quarter.

The new products are targeted for businesses which are large enough to have an IT department said Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer.

Ballmer and Nortel say at present the industry is in the 'segmented phase,' with phone, e-mail and other features operating separately though a shift is taking place to the "integrated phase," with some features working together but some back-end capabilities still running independently. Ballmer says this phase will last from 2007 until 2009. The final phase is the transformation to unified communications, which is expected to begin in 2010 and beyond.

The two companies also announced that they will extend their unified product line for desktop Nortel expects the products could get the two companies $1 billion in related revenue over the next four years.