Microsoft Picks Up Group Chat Provider

The purchase will help Microsoft compete with rivals IBM and Cisco in the red-hot unified communications market.

With billions of dollars at stake in the market for unified communications, Microsoft on Aug. 29 agreed to acquire enterprise group chat software maker Parlano for an undisclosed sum.

Chicago-based Parlano makes MindAlign, which allows several employees to communicate and collaborate in real time on projects that persist over time. Since Parlanos inception in 2000, the software has become popular in financial services firms and call centers.

The buy comes as Microsoft is slugging it out with IBM and Cisco in the market for communications software platforms that allow users to communicate through e-mail, instant messaging, Web conferencing and VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) in real-time through PCs, laptops and handheld devices.


Click here to read more about competition in the collaboration market.

Microsoft said in a statement it will make MindAlign part of its Office Communications Server and Office Communicator, which are the companys server and client software products for presence, instant messaging, conferencing and VOIP.

Specifically, Microsoft will offer group chat as part of the standard client access license for Office Communications Server 2007 Software Assurance customers. Current Parlano customers will then be able to access Microsofts unified communications software.

The deal is hardly a stretch. Parlano is a Microsoft "Gold Certified" partner and its MindAlign application already integrates with Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 and Office Communications Server 2007.

Should the deal close in Microsofts fourth quarter as expected, members of the Parlano team are expected to join the Unified Communications Group at Microsofts Redmond, Wash., campus.

Competition in the unified communications space is heating up. Microsofts bid to buy Parlano comes on the heels of IBMs Aug. 22 purchase of on-demand VOIP provider WebDialogs for an undisclosed sum.


To read more about IBMs purchase of WebDialogs click here.

Parlanos MindAlign software should also help Microsoft better compete with IBMs SameTime 7.5 enterprise instant messaging and Web conferencing software, which includes group chat, VOIP and location awareness. Cisco leverages IBMs SameTime software through an agreement the companies made earlier this year.

To further its cause versus IBM and Cisco, Microsoft has more closely allied with Nortel in the last two years. The two vendors are cross-licensing technology to offer call control, voice mail and conferencing on a single software platform.


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