Microsoft and France Telecom, Europe's No. 2 telecommunications company after Deutsche Telekom, unveiled a partnership to bring out products that combine personal portable computing with mobile-phone technology. The first products they plan to bring to market include LivePhone, a cell phone and PDA combo that includes Wi-Fi Internet access; and Homezone, a device that can switch between cellular GSM reception and voice over IP and includes Wi-Fi reception. They're due in a year to 18 months.
As mobile phones and pocket-sized devices become more common ways for people to interact with computing power, Microsoft wants to augment its position in the PC market with new kinds of deals. At a news conference in Paris last week, Ballmer said Microsoft and France Telecom would share intellectual property and development costs.