Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Nortel (NYSE:NT) have teamed up to offer a fully hosted carrier solution that delivers unified communications to small and midsize businesses. The new offering combines Nortel's Communications Server 2000, an IP multimedia softswitch, and Microsoft's Solution for Hosted Messaging and Collaboration Version 4.5, which includes hosted versions of Office Communications Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2007.

The joint solution features real-time communications, such as voice, click-to-call, click-to-conference, missed call e-mail messages, mobility and telephony presence. These integrate seamlessly with the Office portfolio and the Office Communicator client for a familiar overall experience. As a hosted solution, customers have no need to purchase, install, manage and maintain additional network infrastructure or complex in-house systems.

"Unified communications is a strategic purchase that, up until today, has been leveraged primarily by the large enterprise," Ruchi Prasad, vice president and general manager of the Innovative Communications Alliance at Nortel, said in a statement. "This enhanced joint Microsoft and Nortel solution makes unified communications accessible to businesses of all sizes."