The UK’s largest telecoms operator BT has enlisted the aid of global software giant Microsoft to help it reach its self-imposed target of five million broadband customers by 2006.

The alliance will see the two titans jointly developing a range of business and consumer services centred on Microsoft’s .Net division – technology that MS founder Bill Gates is determined to make the standard for the next generation of personal computers.

BT announced plans in July to enter the computing retail market, vending broadband-ready PCs and has recruited Microsoft as the software and digital content partner for BT Home Computing.

Underlying the PR aurora of mutual admiration is a steely determination to ensure that both companies retain their market stranglehold in the UK.

Says BT ceo Ben Verwaayen: “Make no mistake, this alliance is not window dressing. Our relationship with Microsoft in Europe is moving on to an unprecedented level that will bring real benefits for the customers of both companies.”

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer joined in the chorus: “We are taking this step because BT is a company that delivers – it has a proactive broadband strategy and a passionate focus on customer satisfaction. This alliance with BT is very important to Microsoft.”

Which are likely the same honeyed words Ballmer has already whispered into the ears of the USA’s Verizon and Korea Telecom – with both of which Microsoft has inked similar deals.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff