Analysts keep calling for Nortel to find its niche as its competitors embark on mergers, and Nortel appears to have answered. The company made a bold and risky move yesterday, announcing a four-year deal with Microsoft to share technology and marketing in order to speed up the availability of unified communications. The deal puts Nortel on a rapid pace toward becoming a software and services company. The companies said they plan to cross-license intellectual property, which will allow Nortel to deliver solutions that complement Microsoft's unified communications platform, including enterprise contact center applications, mission-critical telephony functions, advanced mobility capabilities and data networking infrastructure. With the deal, Nortel CEO Mike Zafirovski said he's confident Nortel can capture more than $1 billion in new revenue, "ramping up with increased momentum through 2009 via professional services, voice products and applications, as well as data pull-through in the enterprise."