Microsoft Corp has struck a deal with BT Group Plc that is designed to accelerate the development of broadband applications for UK home and business customers.
London, UK-based BT’s CEO, Ben Verwaayen, and Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, have both put pen to paper on the deal, which follows similar Microsoft relationships with Korea Telecom in Asia and Verizon in the US. The alliance is likely to act as a proof-point as Microsoft looks to expand its influence in broadband across Europe.
Through the deal Microsoft is looking to develop services and applications based on its .NET technology that will make use of BT’s broadband capabilities. The two companies will focus their effort on five areas: multimedia home computing, productivity and flexibility for large organizations, mobile computing, web services, and portals.
Details are thin on the ground at the moment, but about 30 projects are said to be underway within the five areas, with further details due for release as the projects progress. The latest of these projects could potentially see Microsoft becoming BT’s software and digital content partner for BT Home Computing service.
The two companies have also had alliances in the past. In 1999, Microsoft and BT announced a global agreement to develop a new range of internet, intranet and corporate data services for mobile customers that was supposed to allow mobile users to access securely Microsoft internet and corporate applications.
Meanwhile, in September this year the companies announced two new alliances to target web services opportunities and provide an always-on broadband gaming capability for Microsoft’s Xbox games machine.
These are two agreements that the companies are looking to expand on with the new alliance. Ballmer commented in a statement: Both our organizations will be working hard to ensure we spot the right opportunities and quickly bring to market products and services that match the needs of our customers.
BT has been much criticized for its part in the slow roll-out of broadband services in the UK, but Verwaayen said its latest deal would produce results. Make no mistake, this alliance is not window dressing, he said. Our relationship with Microsoft in Europe is moving to an unprecedented and exciting level that will bring real benefits to the customers of both companies.