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Cisco and Microsoft vow to fight nice

Rival but compatible products on the way

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Microsoft and Cisco may be headed for a market rivalry, but the companies vowed today that their competing products will work together well.

In their first public discussion together, Cisco chief John Chambers and Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer said that while the companies will compete, they will continue to collaborate in several areas.

The CEOs announced their affirmation of friendship today at an executive roundtable moderated by Charlie Rose. But it wasn't in front of a pure black background, so who knows what to believe?

"When so much of the focus is on who is going to win in markets like unified communications, say, or in Internet-driven television," said Ballmer, "what is often missing is the amount of work that we're doing on interoperability - on just how much collaboration there is between the two companies to make our solutions work better together."

Chambers said the two companies have invested about $40m for joint work together and have over 140 people involved with the two companies making nice.

Chambers continued that both companies will be fighting head-to-head with unified communications devices, but are using their respective expertise to approach the market. Cisco believes the best way to deliver is at the network level, while Microsoft is going the software route.

The execs settled that cooperation will never preclude either company from pursuing competitive opportunities, but when it comes to compatibility, neither will go with "all or nothing."

You can grab a webcast of the discussion here. ®

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