Microsoft CEO Bill Gates has denied rumors that his cash-rich company has plans to acquire a telecommunications operator and said Microsoft is definitely not planning to buy British Telecommunications PLC, whose shares jumped two weeks ago on rumors of a Microsoft takeover.
"There has never been any discussion of us buying any part of a phone company, BT or any other," Gates said during a press conference with Dominque Strauss-Kahn, France's minister of the economy, finance and industry.
However, Microsoft does plan to work more closely with telecommunications operators around the world, Gates said, calling Microsoft's plans to cooperate with telcos "very important." Instead of buying one telco, or several, Microsoft is "going to use the partnership model," he said.
Microsoft has already signed an agreement with France Telecom that will give the carrier Microsoft Network's online service customers in exchange for the carrier's promoting MSN content. The two companies will also continue to work together in the future on other projects, Gates said. Microsoft has also partnered with BT to offer managed intranet services to companies in the U.K.
Because telcos are getting into Internet service provision, Web hosting, e-mail services and electronic commerce, Microsoft undoubtedly will continue to partner with them, Gates said.