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Microsoft has formed some aggressive partnerships with several communication system developers in the last 12 months that have some people scratching their heads wondering where this is going. Both Mitel and Nortel have developed “strategic” partnerships and integrations with Microsoft to bring unified communications and presence applications to their customers. The applications developed through these partnerships are not the issue at hand, the questions surrounding these partnerships center on Microsoft’s actual intentions.

It’s no secret that Nortel has been consistently losing market share for the past several years and their stock price has plummeted 75% since 2005. Why then would Microsoft associate itself with a struggling company when it has been heralded as the gold standard of technology for years? We know the reason is not Nortel’s cutting edge technology or ground breaking solutions they provide to customers. If that was the case, Nortel wouldn’t be cutting jobs and losing millions of dollars each quarter.

The answer could exist in Nortel’s existing installed customer base, which is known as one of the largest in the telecom industry. Nortel’s customer base could prove to be fertile ground for Microsoft to mine expansion opportunities, under the guise of a partnership with Nortel. A potential customer may also overlook the vast shortcomings of Nortel’s product due to the Microsoft name attached.

Just some food for thought if you are examining a Nortel solution, some things are not always as they seem on the surface. Make sure you ask all the right questions when evaluating a communication system for your business.

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