Microsoft and Symantec have announced an agreement to cross-pollinate each company's information management and communications products.
Initially, Microsoft will incorporate elements of Symantec's WinFax Pro application, mainly its send and receive fax functions, into Outlook 98, Microsoft's messaging and collaboration client.
The WinFax Pro component, which will be called the Starter Edition in Outlook 98, will replace Outlook 97's Microsoft Fax components but will not add additional features.
"It's almost a feature-by-feature replacement for Microsoft Fax," said Michael Kerman, vice president at Symantec.
Doug Stemberger, a product manager for Microsoft Outlook, said the company decided use WinFax Pro rather than Microsoft Fax because although Outlook 97 was pitched specifically as an Exchange Server client, Outlook 98 is designed to be an Internet mail client as well.
"The problem is that the old Microsoft fax product doesn't work for the Internet-based configuration of Outlook 98," Stemberger said.
Both companies hinted at additional collaborative efforts in the future.
"The relationship will extend much beyond the fax product," said Christopher Calisa, Symantec's vice president of remote productivity solutions.
"We are interested in a broader relationship between Microsoft and Symantec, and we will pursue opportunities," Calisa added. "But for now we are focused on fax integration."
One analyst also said he believed that such collaboration makes sense.
"When you have world-class products like WinFax and Act ... why not leverage them?" said Andrew Johnson, a senior industry analyst at Dataquest, in San Jose, California.