Six months after teaming up to create a unified, IP-based platform for a variety of business communications services, Microsoft and Nortel Networks unveiled several new products that would form the cornerstone of the companies’ partnership. The venture, dubbed the Innovative Communications Alliance (ICA), seeks to integrate e-mail, voice, instant messaging, video conferencing and other business communications on a single web-based platform, eliminating the need for business clients to toggle between multiple applications and thereby saving businesses’ time and money. Explaining ICA’s vision, Nortel CEO Mike Zafirovski and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a press conference that the telecommunications industry is currently in a “segmented phase,” in which voice, e-mail and other business communications run separately. The executives said that ICA’s goal during the next two years is to shift to an “integrated phase,” whereby various communications features work together as back-end features and continue to run independently. For 2010 and beyond, Ballmer and Zafirovski foresee a shift to “unified communications,” in which multiple telecom technologies are tied together on a single server. Nortel predicts the alliance will reap nearly $1 billion in revenues during the next four years.