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Microsoft And BT Expand Partnership

The companies will work more closely together to sell phone and Web conferencing technology.
REDMOND, Wash. (AP) -- Software giant Microsoft Corp. and the British telecommunications company BT Group PLC will work more closely together to sell phone and Web conferencing technology, hoping to convince companies that buying such tools will allow them to save substantially on business travel costs.

BT's conferencing unit already offers businesses Web conferencing using Microsoft's Office Live Meeting and San Jose, Calif.-based WebEx Communications, Inc., said Brenda Treherne, director of the product management for the U.S. division of BT's conferencing unit.

With the new agreement, Treherne said Microsoft and BT also plan to co-develop their conferencing products so they work more smoothly together. They also plan to market and sell the products together, she said, although details of those arrangements are still to be worked out.

The company also is still working out how much the products will cost under the new arrangement, she said.

The products will initially be offered to U.S. and British businesses.

As part of the agreement, London-based BT also will offer Live Meeting for about 150,000 of its own employees, said Jennifer Callison, a marketing director at Redmond-based Microsoft.

Live Meeting is currently used by about 5,500 companies, mostly in the United States, Callison said.

Microsoft, facing increasing market saturation of its Office software, has said it hopes to create new revenue by selling products such as Live Meeting to existing Office users.

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