Microsoft closes Perceptive Pixel deal

The company's large touch displays are expected to boost Microsoft's collaboration products like Lync

Just weeks after announcing the deal, Microsoft has closed its acquisition of Perceptive Pixel (PPI), whose large-scale, multitouch displays Microsoft plans to use to boost its collaboration, meetings and presentation products.

PPI will become part of the Office Division and its founder, president and CTO Jeff Han will become a general manager reporting to the division's President Kurt DelBene, Giovanni Mezgec, general manager for Lync said in a blog post on Monday.

In an interview when the deal was announced on July 9, Mezgec said that "a tremendous opportunity" exists in the collaboration and productivity market to change how meetings are conducted.

By making large, touch-screen displays "mainstream" in workplaces, the work environment can be "fundamentally" changed, he said at the time.

In that respect, Microsoft will likely be locking horns with Cisco, which has had for years a line of video conferencing and telepresence products designed to improve virtual meetings.

Cisco is now in the process of integrating those products with its other enterprise collaboration tools.

PPI's large displays can be hung on walls and used with hand gestures or stylus pens.

The fact that Microsoft chose Mezgec as the official in charge of speaking about this deal is a clear indication that the PPI products will be first and foremost integrated with Lync, which offers instant messaging and presence, web meetings, video conferencing and IP telephony.

The PPI technology also fits in with Microsoft's Metro redesign of the Windows user interface in Windows 8 for computers, tablets and smartphones whose screens support touch and stylus input. Windows 8 will be released commercially at the end of October, at which time devices running the new OS will also begin to appear.

Gartner analyst Michael Silver said that Microsoft probably is also interested in PPI's Storyboard software for presentations, which could be used to improve PowerPoint, especially in the area of integrating rich media elements into presentations. "That could be another feature they want," he said via email.

PPI could also help Microsoft make its upcoming Surface tablet bigger to offer models for living-room entertainment. "There have been rumors about Apple potentially delivering a TV. We can imagine Microsoft using the Surface brand for a large screen, living-room device," Silver said.

Founded in 2006, PPI has customers in industry verticals including government, defense, broadcast, energy exploration, engineering and higher education.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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