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Microsoft & Cisco strike unusual partnership

Cisco also owns the Linksys brand

In an unusual step, Microsoft and Cisco have pledged they will work together to ensure a higher compatibility between their products. The executives spoke of a "unified communications" system that ties together email phone and internet networks.

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer and Cisco chief executive John Chambers said that while they will compete in certain areas, they also want to help customers who pick and choose products and services from the two companies.

Ballmer was complementary about Cisco. "There are plenty of competitors that you just don't talk to, or things get acrimonious," he told Reuters. "That's not where we want to go with Cisco."

Cisco also owns the Linksys brand.