Microsoft, Alcatel team to make calls from the desktop

French telecommunications company Alcatel has signed a deal with Microsoft to help develop applications that allow users to make phone calls from their computers, it said Thursday.

Under the partnership, Alcatel's Genesys unit will work with Microsoft's Real-Time Collaboration Group to give enterprise customers integrated instant messaging (IM) and telephony applications using the software giant's next-generation IM and communications software called "Istanbul." Istanbul is the front-end application for Microsoft's upcoming Live Communications Server (LCS) 2005 product, which links LCS 2005 with users' telephones.

The products resulting from the collaboration are aimed at giving users the ability to make phone calls through a company's existing PBX (private branch exchange) or IP-PBX (Internet Protocol-PBX) phone system from their desktop, as well as access to a suite of communication features, such as the ability to view the availability of contacts, transfer calls and schedule conference calls, Alcatel said.

The deal comes as the software maker aims to take greater part in the convergence between the telephone and computer markets. Microsoft forged a similar agreement with Siemens earlier this week, to bring together the companies' communication and collaboration products.

Financial details of the Alcatel agreement were not disclosed.

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