Microsoft Sees Office Phone as Next Frontier

Software giant likely to butt heads with Cisco in lucrative market
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 17, 2007 11:24 AM CDT
Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates gestures during a launch announcement at the Unified Communications Server 2007 conference in San Francisco, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2007. Microsoft Corp. launches programs...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Microsoft is famous for ever-more-complicated programs for ever-faster computers, and now it's taking aim at an overlooked piece of hardware: the phone. Yesterday, Bill Gates launched a line of software designed for office telephones that aims to make phone tag a thing of the past. It's a multi-billion-dollar sector, Fortune writes, but one in which rival Cisco is already well invested.

Microsoft eventually hopes to offer videoconferencing, call forwarding, and other services to make office phones smarter. But Cisco is not sitting idly by: It remains the leading producer of hardware for data transfer, which the company insists matters more than software. Both companies agree that the move from closed dedicated phone lines to an open net is inevitable.