HP announced the release of HD video conferencing tools for desktops, notebooks and conference rooms, heating up the competition with Cisco and Microsoft.

The tools released include HP Visual Collaboration Desktop software which could be installed on laptops and PCs and HP Visual Collaboration Executive Desktop, which comes bundled with a 23-inch HP TouchSmart 600 Quad PC with peripherals such as a camera and headsets.

It also released Visual Collaboration Room 100 and Room 220 solution for HD video conferencing for conference-sized rooms.

The products are based on its partnership with Vidyo, which was announced in June. HP uses Vidyo's scalable video coding technology.

The HP system includes HP Visual Collaboration Portal which comes preconfigured with ProLiant DL 360 servers, HP Visual Collaboration Router and HP Visual Collaboration Gateway to assist companies in migrating from older videoconferencing equipment.

HP's release follows Microsoft's launch of Microsoft Lync 2010, a rebranding of its unified office communications system. Microsoft also disclosed that the Lync will be integrated with its motion-sensing device Kinect and Windows Live Messenger.

According to a Forrester report, the unified communications market will be worth $14.5 billion by 2015.

Currently Cisco has big presence in the video conferencing market, after its acquisition of Norwegian video conferencing company Tandberg for $3 billion. It also launched a video conference-focused tablet Cius. Cisco's thrust has been in video-calling, as with its Smart Business Communications System, a unified business communication service, WebEx and TelePresence software for enterprises.

Cisco also launched VXI desktop virtualization solution, which will bring its unified communications applications to users in a virtualized environment. Customers can also use its videoconferencing-based Cius tablet in the virtualized environment.

HP's high-end Halo teleconferencing system is priced at $250,000 to compete with Cisco's high-end telepresence systems. However, with the desktop based tools, HP is also targeting SMBs a segment which Cisco is also targeting.