Microsoft is merging its interactive voice-response technology into 24/7 Inc. and taking an equity stake in the Silicon Valley company.

The deal, announced this morning, includes an R&D partnership between the companies and a patent licensing agreement that gives 24/7 broader access to Microsoft’s speech technologies. An undisclosed number of Microsoft employees will shift to 24/7, along with related speech technology and customers.

The companies aren’t disclosing the size of the equity stake, but the board of Sequoia Capital-backed 24/7 won’t be changing as a result of the deal.

24/7 says it will use the assets to offer companies a smarter form of self-service calling, bridging the worlds of online and phone-based customer service. For example, someone receiving an automated call from a bank about suspicious account activity would be able to simultaneously receive and review transactions on a smartphone, and interact with the computer via voice to put a stop on purchases or cancel a card.

Microsoft and 24/7 say they have agreed to a shared roadmap for future products and services in this area.

The interactive self-service technologies trace their roots back to Microsoft’s acquisition of TellMe. Microsoft says it will continue to develop its speech technology under the TellMe brand for use in products including Windows Phone, Bing and Xbox Live.

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  • Guest

    This is good news. I’m glad that Microsoft is leveraging its diverse (some might say overly-diverse) intellectual property portfolio into multiple companies to help spur innovation, while retaining significant upside potential vis-a-vis the equity stake.

    I like this strategy. The board likes this strategy. Customers like this strategy.

    • Guest

      Wake up, Paul. This is just another layoff in spin off clothing.

    • Guest

      Would that be the same board that has allowed half of MS’s shareholder value to be destroyed and the company to lose out in virtually every important market for the future, including ones it helped pioneer like mobile and tablets?

      Fire Ballmer. Fire the Board. Start Over.

      • Guest

        Yes, that’s the same board.

        Instead of saying “Fire Ballmer” and “Fire the Board,” please propose a new CEO and a new board of directors. Who do you think can turn around America’s second-most profitable tech company?

        • Guest

          Thought so. Why are they still there?

          I can think of half of dozen obvious CEO replacements and dozens of board candidates. The important thing is to get Ballmer out of there and remove Gates so that any new CEO doesn’t get forced into the same old thinking that hasn’t worked well for a decade. MS is only America’s second-most profitable company because of legacy products. Windows is already showing negative growth and Office will follow shortly. Then what? Nothing they’ve done in the past decade is even close to as profitable.

          • Guest

            According to Ballmer this is the year everything starts to turn around. Don’t hold your breath.

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