Orange and Microsoft target multinationals

Joint offering will combine the software maker's collaboration tools with Orange's global reach as a systems integrator

Orange announced a deal with Microsoft late on Monday that will see the software giant's corporate collaboration tools integrated into the communication firm's global business systems offerings.

The package, "Business Together With Microsoft", is aimed at multinational companies that want to roll out recent Microsoft products — such as Office Communications Server 2007, Exchange Server 2007, Forefront and Office SharePoint Server — across their branches. A spokesperson for Orange, which claims to operate the largest IP network in the world, told ZDNet.co.uk that Orange was best placed to enable deployments across multiple international sites.

"The difference between this and previous Microsoft deals with, for example, Cisco, is that those deals have tended to be with Cisco UK or Cisco France. This deal is actually global," explained the spokesperson, who suggested that the deal showed Orange was stepping up its role as a systems integrator.

The package is a result of an agreement signed by Orange's Didier Lombard and Microsoft's Steve Ballmer in 2005, Orange's spokesperson added. Business Together With Microsoft will, through a single Outlook interface, let users access their mailbox and voice messages, make VoIP calls and engage in videoconferencing and instant messaging.

Laurent Kocher, vice president of global services for Orange Business Services, said that there was a huge demand for collaborative solutions in today's working environment. "Co-operative work between employees in different locations across time zones is expected to make up more than half of a typical office employee's work time by 2015," he continued. "Companies need to provide staff with the tools to respond quickly to constant demands for attention and an efficient way to manage multiple types of contact."