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Microsoft is combining its Exchange e-mail and instant messaging businesses to help promote its unified messaging technology strategy.

The company is combining the Exchange unit with the Real-Time Collaborations (RTC) unit to create the new Unified Communications Group.

The RTC unit’s products include Live Communications Server, which allows employees to see a colleague’s messaging presence. They can then communicate with them instantly through either text or voice technologies, whatever option is appropriate.

Microsoft has emphasised that the merger will not immediately lead to a single server product by combining the main products from the two old divisions.

However, the company said the merger was part of its ongoing strategy to bring closer integration between the technologies.

Exchange 12 is currently in beta, with a final release expected early next year.

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