Microsoft to buy maker of large, touch displays

The acquisition of Perceptive Pixel is expected to boost Microsoft collaboration and communication offerings

Microsoft has entered into an agreement to buy Perceptive Pixel (PPI) a vendor of large-scale, multitouch displays, an acquisition Microsoft expects will boost its enterprise collaboration and communication offerings.

PPI was founded in 2006, and sells large displays that can be hung on walls and interacted with via hand touch or stylus.

It's likely that the PPI technology will be closely used with Microsoft's Lync product, which includes IM and presence, web meetings, video conferencing and IP telephony.

Cisco, a Microsoft rival in the enterprise collaboration market, has a strong lineup of video conferencing and telepresence products that it's integrating into its broader collaboration stack.

PPI customers are in a variety of industries, including government, defense, broadcast, energy exploration, engineering and higher education. For example, CNN has used PPI displays in its broadcasts.

Microsoft didn't disclose financial terms of the deal, which is subject to customary closing conditions and approvals.

"There is a tremendous opportunity in the collaboration and productivity market for us to change the way meetings are conducted in boardrooms, offices and classrooms," said Giovanni Mezgec, general manager for Lync at Microsoft.

With PPI, Microsoft will seek to make the use of large, touch displays mainstream in workplaces, he said. "The work environment could fundamentally change with multi-touch, large screen technology," he said.

Once the deal is finalized, Microsoft will continue to actively sell PPI products, which it foresees will work particularly well with Windows 8 devices, since the new OS has a new interface called Metro that is optimized for touch input.

Microsoft announced the deal at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Toronto, where it also said that Windows 8 will be released to manufacturers in August and begin shipping commercially in October.

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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