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Updated with additional details from Microsoft.

In a surprise joint venture between two corporate giants, Microsoft and General Electric plan to form a new health-care technology company, based near Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters campus, the companies announced tonight.

The new venture between Microsoft and GE Healthcare requires regulatory approval. The company doesn’t yet have a name. It would be established next year with about 750 employees to start, a Microsoft spokesman confirmed tonight. Employees will be drawn from GE, Microsoft and elsewhere.

Michael J. Simpson, a GE executive, will be the chief executive of the new company, according to a New York Times report that broke the news of the joint venture.

The new joint venture between Microsoft and GE will be “aimed at improving healthcare quality and the patient experience,” writes Nate McLemore, general manager of the Microsoft Health Solutions Group, in a post tonight.

Peter Neupert

Peter Neupert, who heads Microsoft’s health initiatives, is retiring from the company. Neupert, the former drugstore.com CEO, returned to Microsoft in 2005 and has worked at the company for a total of 18 years.

“As a recent empty-nester, Peter is interested in rebalancing his work and personal time,” said Lou Gellos, a Microsoft spokesman. “Peter will remain a full-time Microsoft employee through January 2012 and will subsequently work as a consultant to assist with the transition.”

The new company will “combine Microsoft’s deep expertise in building platforms and ecosystems with GE Healthcare’s experience in clinical and administrative workflow solution,” Microsoft’s McLemore writes, adding that the joint venture will “will develop and market an open, interoperable technology platform and next-generation clinical applications that will help enable better population health management.”

According to Microsoft and GE, the products and services that will shift to the new company include:

  • Microsoft Amalga, an enterprise health intelligence platform
  • Microsoft Vergence, a single sign-on and context management solution
  • Microsoft expreSSO, an enterprise single sign-on solution
  • GE Healthcare eHealth, a Health Information Exchange (HIE)
  • GE Healthcare Qualibria, a clinical knowledge application environment

Microsoft’s HealthVault personal data repository will remain part of Microsoft, but the new company will make applications that connect to and use HealthVault, according to the companies.

GE and Microsoft are also connected through the msnbc.com joint venture involving Microsoft and NBC Universal. GE is minority owner of NBC Universal following its deal with Comcast.

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