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Microsoft, Nortel Celebrate an Anniversary

Microsoft  and Nortel  are celebrating their first year "together" this week –- together as in unified communications, that is.

A year ago this week, the software behemoth and the telecommunications titan announced their Innovative Communications Alliance , an initiative based around the vendors' joint vision of a unified communications architecture that enables users to access all of their messages, whatever the format, from whatever client they want to use at the time.

A key component of that vision is support for voice over IP (VoIP) , and the smooth migration to it.

On their one-year anniversary, the companies announced several milestones, perhaps the most significant of which is that more than 430,000 licenses for joint unified communications solutions have been sold to date.

In addition, Microsoft and Nortel have been collaborating on enterprise, mobile and carrier solutions, which will result in "a set of broadly interoperable products due later this year and new joint solutions such as a unified communications integrated branch offering due in the first quarter of next year," the companies said in a joint statement.

Further, the two firms said they are participating in various joint go-to-market activities. Those include more than 100 labs and customer centers they have set up to show joint solutions, as well as more than 60 road show events.

But at least one analyst was unimpressed.

"I wouldn't say it's that significant," Rob Helm, research director at Directions on Microsoft, told internetnews.com. "It's a momentum announcement... nothing momentous."

A more important test of the alliance's viability will come later this year and early next year when the two companies ship the promised upcoming products, Helm added.

However, the fact that anything is happening is a good sign, said another analyst.

"Given this is a large telecom company, [and] telecoms don't partner well, this isn't a bad start," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at researcher Enderle Group, said in an e-mail to internetnews.com. "We've been trying to do unified communications for years so progress was expected to be slow. This is better than expected," he added.