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Microsoft, Siemens Unite on Collaboration

Building on an existing two-year strategic product relationship, Microsoft and Siemens AG today announced a global development and sales agreement for real-time collaboration solutions.

The companies said the alliance promises to deliver a thorough product lineup of "enterprise-grade, presence-enhanced calling, video and Web conferencing, and collaboration solutions."

The agreement will align the sales and market development initiatives of the two firms on a number of Microsoft products, including Office Live Meeting and and Office Live Communications Server (LCS) 2005.

The partners will also market Microsoft's new real-time collaboration product, code-named Istanbul, which includes instant messaging, presence awareness, telephony integration and desktop voice and video.

Microsoft announced Istanbul in October. The company called it the "client of choice" replacement for Windows Messenger in LCS 2005, which was officially released a week after Istanbul.

The two partners will also market and sell Siemens HiPath OpenScape, which is a presence-enabled collaboration portal. HiPath OpenScape, which is built on top of Istanbul and LCS 2005, improves connectivity by providing presence and device controls across a variety of communications media including IM, e-mail and telephony, according to Siemens.

The product's Telephony Control Link (TCL) promises to offer control of PBX or IP-PBX connected desktop phones. The TCL solution will work on top of "Istanbul" and LCS 2005 and will allow users "click-to-call" control, call notification and presence awareness. The solution is expected to work with IP-PBX/PBX phones from Siemens, as well as those from other vendors. TCL is expected to be available in the first half of 2005.

Microsoft will be deploying the HiPath OpenScape solution in Redmond and Siemens will deploy LCS 2005 and Live Meeting in its enterprise.

"Siemens and Microsoft have agreed on an aligned roadmap of presence-based, real-time communication objectives to help erase the communication gaps that remain between the personal computer and the office telephone," said Bernd Kuhlin, president of Enterprise Networks Systems at Siemens Communications, in a statement.

"Together we've aligned Live Communications Server 2005, Istanbul and the HiPath OpenScape product family to deliver a shared vision of communication tools that are standards-based and presence-enabled so that enterprises can gain strategic advantages from real-time collaboration," he continued. "Now we're cooperating closely in the field to bring the benefits of that shared vision to customers."

Siemens isn't the only company to join Microsoft's Istanbul party. Radvision showed off its software-based multipoint control unit (MCU), which was Istanbul-ready.