Microsoft Acquires a VoIP Startup
In a play to boost its IP-telephony capacity, Microsoft has acquired Teleo, a privately held provider of VoIP software and services. The move comes on the heels of Google's high-profile IP-play announced last week, Google Talk, a downloadable instant messaging and VoIP service. The Redmond-based company expects to integrate Teleo technologies into the infrastructure that supports MSN, and eventually to deliver new VoIP consumer apps in future releases of MSN services. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but members of the Teleo executive team will continue to work closely with MSN following the acquisition, while some Teleo product developers are expected to join MSN, according to Microsoft.
Microsoft currently uses VoIP technology in some of its products and services, including MSN Messenger. Now the software giant is acquiring Teleo's click-to-call dialing functionality, which allows users to click on a phone number that appears on a Web site or from a Web search, for example, and place a call. Published reports also indicate that Microsoft will integrate Teleo's functionality with its local search engine offering.
The acquisition further solidifies Microsoft's "pervasive" communications strategy, says Daniel Hong, senior CRM analyst at Datamonitor. "Voice is the next killer app for PC-based messaging. Integrating Teleo's technology, Microsoft will be able to provide more intuitive and feature-rich VoIP applications to end users." The company certainly is looking to become more of a player in voice technology, says Rob Arnold, enterprise telephony analyst at Current Analysis. However, the acquisition will have less of an impact on the contact center, and "will definitely have more of an effect on the savvy multimedia user," Arnold says.
Microsoft also has expanded its partnership with Nortel Networks to provide collaborative real-time functionality by integrating Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 and Office Live Communication Server with Nortel's SIP-based Nortel Communication Server 1000. End users can initiate phone calls through enterprise phones directly from Communicator 2005 and forward incoming calls automatically based on location. The tool is expected to be available for customer beta trials in September, with general availability later in 2005.
The play is similar to an announcement made by Microsoft and Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories earlier this year to provide text instant message, voice, and video chat, and collaboration capabilities through Microsoft Live Communication Server, says Joe Outlaw, principal analyst for contact center solutions at Current Analysis. The Nortel partnership, he says, is "about enabling the enterprise worker to have some telephony capabilities similar to a call center, but not specific to call center." Arnold adds that it "was more or less an expected move after Siemens, Mitel, and a few others have already partnered with Microsoft for [elements including] collaboration tools, multimedia conferencing, [and] presence software."
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