Microsoft set to announce wireless deal with BT

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The Independent Online

Microsoft will next month attempt to stave off criticism that it has been slow to react to the mobile internet market, by forming an alliance with BT to develop wireless products.

Microsoft will next month attempt to stave off criticism that it has been slow to react to the mobile internet market, by forming an alliance with BT to develop wireless products.

The partnership is expected to be announced at the end of September and will see the two companies build mobile devices and software targeted at the corporate customer.

The move will also see a closer working relationship between Microsoft and BT, who have already secured a series of partnerships in both the mobile and software application arena.

The announcement will be only part of a wider launch of Microsoft's offering to UK businesses. It is also expected to announce a series of other partnerships and products tied to its ".Net" initiative, which Bill Gates launched in June.

While refusing to comment on the BT partnership, Jeremy Gittins, group marketing manager of Strategic Business Development, said: "In the UK we will focus on three areas - dot coms, application service provision and mobility. The partnerships are fundamental to this."

He added: "This is a big shift in strategy. In 1995 Microsoft said that the internet would be at the heart of everything we did. The new initiative is going to be bigger than anything we have ever done in our history."

The new product launches will include new e-mail, server and database software.

The move will put Microsoft squarely in competition with its arch rival and provocateur Oracle. And already the knives are out. Mr Gittins said: "If you use a Sun box and an Oracle database it would cost you $97 (£64) per transaction. If you use Microsoft with an IBM database the figure will be $37. With our competitors' products, the larger the scale, the higher the price. With us, the more volume, the lower the unit cost."

Microsoft still has legal proceedings hanging over it. On Tuesday it issued a plea to the US Supreme Court to allow its appeal against anti-trust violations to be heard in a lower appeals court.

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