France Telecom and Microsoft team up

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France Telecom and Microsoft team up

According to Reuters, Microsoft and France Telecom are teaming up to offer various communication services, including VoIP.

Microsoft Corp. and France Telecom said on Wednesday the first product from their multimedia partnership was likely to be ready within a year and that they were confident of success in the venture.

The world's largest software maker and France Telecom (Research) held a joint news conference in Paris to highlight that the partnership would initially focus on mobile phones using wireless technology and on bringing together voice, video and data over networks.

"The first product could be available within a year," Microsoft (Research) Chief Executive Steve Ballmer told reporters in Paris.

"We have an extremely buoyant vision of the future," added France Telecom Chairman and Chief Executive Didier Lombard. Lombard said the two companies were likely to explore working on other projects in this area.

Last week, France Telecom said its LivePhone product, which it is developing with Microsoft, would be ready by the fourth quarter of 2005. The LivePhone product uses wireless technology and is connected to the Internet.

The software-based LivePhone, for example, will permit France Telecom customers to make Internet phone calls over wireless networks using SlP, a common VoIP standard that "holds everything together," said Will Stofega, VoIP analyst at IDC.

The VoIP calls will be routed through a France Telecom gateway and then onto the regular telephone network.

Also mentioned as a product Microsoft will help develop is Homezone. The software will let owners of mobile phones with built-in Wi-Fi make on-the-go calls over a wireless network or from home. Both companies expect development to include a smart phone based on Microsoft's Windows Mobile operating system.

In recent months, several leading software and telecoms companies have announced collaborations in the area of developing new Internet and mobile phone services.

In June, Dutch telecoms operator KPN (Research) chose Siemens (Research) as its network equipment supplier to launch Internet Protocol (IP) television over phone lines.

Last month, U.S. software company Intel Corp (Research) said it had teamed up with South Korea's KT Corp to work on long-distance wireless broadband technology.

Ballmer said the costs of developing the various products were most likely to be split evenly between Microsoft and France Telecom.

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