Cisco's Skype Appeal, Windows Phone Tango Marked Microsoft Week

Microsoft's week involved the next stage in its collaboration with GE Healthcare, some rumors of Windows Phone "Tango" and a possible fight with Cisco over Skype.

Microsoft€™s biggest event of the week could also prove troublesome in coming months. On Feb. 15, Cisco Systems announced that it will appeal the European Commission€™s approval of Microsoft€™s Skype acquisition.

€œWe respect the European Commission, and value Microsoft as a customer, supplier, partner and competitor,€ Marthin De Beer, senior vice president of Cisco€™s Video and Collaboration Group, wrote in a Feb. 15 posting on the company€™s corporate blog. €œCisco does not oppose the merger, but believes the European Commission should have placed conditions that would ensure greater standards-based interoperability, to avoid any one company from being able to seek to control the future of video communications.€

In simple terms, that means Cisco wants interoperability between its products and those of the combined Microsoft-Skype entity, particularly when it comes to the enterprise and small and midsize businesses (SMBs): €œMicrosoft€™s plans to integrate Skype exclusively with its Lync Enterprise Communications Platform could lock-in businesses who want to reach Skype€™s 700 million account holders to a Microsoft-only platform.€

As an antitrust regulator with significant power within the EU, the European Commission has the capability to make things busy for Microsoft€™s legal teams (something it€™s done before, such as over the presence of Internet Explorer on Windows 7.)

Microsoft€™s week wasn€™t all potential roadblocks, however. Its joint venture with GE Healthcare now seems firmly underway, with their corporate offspring given an official name: Caradigm. The new entity will focus on aiding health-care organizations and professionals via real-time intelligence, according to Microsoft. Dr. Brandon Savage, the chief medical officer of GE Healthcare, will become Caradigm€™s chief medical officer and senior vice president of product strategy.

The two companies plan to launch Caradigm by the end of the first half of 2012, if all goes according to plan. Although is currently owned by a California health-plan provider, Microsoft and GE are in apparent negotiations to take over the Website.

On the rumor front, some news leaked about Windows Phone €œTango,€ reportedly Microsoft€™s next update to its smartphone operating system. According to the blog, itself drawing the info from a Russian Website, the build will include new features such as being able to manage contacts directly on the SIM card.

€œTango will support many new countries, will be able to automatically download and update apps via Zune, and increase the number of pre-installed applications from 16 to 40,€ the blog reported. But the biggest feature is Tango€™s ability to run on 256MB Windows Phones€”a vital goal, if Microsoft wants to increase its platform€™s market share by offering a range of midmarket devices.

Meanwhile, Microsoft continues to gear up for Windows 8, its next-generation operating system for both traditional PCs and tablets. According to one analyst, the platform could benefit from an unexpected source: Amazon€™s Kindle Fire.

€œIn the wake of the new low bar for pricing set by the Fire and the Nook and the looming Google acquisition of Motorola Mobility,€ IHS analyst Rhoda Alexander wrote in a Feb. 16 research note, €œmanufacturers and branded vendors are looking to Windows 8 tablets as a more profitable alternative.€ It predicts those Windows 8 tablets will hit the market in late 2012 and early 2013, which fits with other analyst predictions.

By then, will Microsoft and Cisco still be tangling in front of the European Commission?

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