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Cisco, Microsoft To Collaborate on Communication Tools

Cisco Systems Inc., the world's largest network equipment maker, said on Monday it's partnering with Microsoft Corp. to create a package of communications tools geared for businesses.

Part of its efforts to diversify and expand its revenue stream, San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco is launching the "Cisco Unified Communications" system that will integrate voice, data and video products and applications.

The overall package includes 30 products, most of which are enhancements or updates to existing technologies. But three of them are entirely new:

  • The Cisco Unified Presence Server collects information about a user's availability status (such as whether they're on the phone or on a computer at any given time).
  • The Cisco Unified Client, a program that allows users to make desktop video calls as well as sort, view and play messages on their PCs.
  • The Cisco Unified Customer Interaction Analyzer, a service that can be used in contact centers, which can analyze the tone of a customer's voice as well as how and where to route a call.

The two companies will work together to integrate Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 and Microsoft Office Live Communications technologies with Cisco's Unified Communications System.

The package of tools will allow customers to move between instant messaging or phone sessions, as well as launch or answer calls from within the Office Communicator. Customers can also choose to start a call from either the computer or telephone.

The companies expect the interoperable package of tools to be available in August 2006.