HP and Microsoft Corp announced Tuesday a four-year strategic global initiative to deliver an end-to-end unified communications and collaboration solution at Interop Las Vegas 2009.

HP, the world’s largest technology company is joining hands with software giant Microsoft to invest up to an additional $180 million in product development, professional services, as well as joint sales and marketing, to help organizations lower cost and improve productivity.

During the Interop Las Vegas 2009 two engineers of HP and Microsoft demonstrated on stage the Office Communicator on HP hardware, holding a video conference “with no audio stutter and no disconnect between audio and video at any point in the conversations”, said Alex Wolfe, editor in chief of InformationWeek.com. “During the first few minutes of this keynote, the room filled up — it’s been standing-room only since about ten minutes into the session.”

Demand for unified communications and collaboration technologies is growing rapidly. According to an independent report from Forrester Research, 84 percent of enterprises in North America and Europe are currently evaluating, piloting or implementing unified communications and collaboration solutions, and the market is expected to grow at a rate of 35.9 percent through 2015.

The end-to-end solution, which is planned to span software, hardware, networking and services, would enable customers to improve business output and reduce travel, telecom and IT operating costs. This would be accomplished by streamlining communications across messaging, video and voice with connected applications and devices. HP and Microsoft also plan to provide the flexibility and control customers need to manage their communications infrastructure efficiently.

“Together, we are offering the extensive breadth of capabilities of our respective technologies to deliver a truly unified communications and collaboration solution to help our customers improve business productivity,” said Stephen Elop, president, Microsoft Business Division, Microsoft. “This means one click to communicate, one click to conference, one click to collaborate.”