Microsoft Corporation and General Magic Inc., best known as makers of the failed Magic Cap OS for handheld computers, announced on Wednesday that Microsoft had made a minority investment in General Magic and licensed some of General Magic's technologies. The net result was a $6 million payment to General Magic. Microsoft isn't interested in Magic Cap, however. General Magic has lately been working on integrating voice and data applications, which Microsoft would like for Windows NT 5. The company's "Serengeti" virtual assistant integrates email, fax, address book, calendar, news, and stock quote information into a package that is accessible via a cellular phone or Web browser.

Serengeti will synchronize with several Microsoft products, including Outlook 97/98, Schedule+, and Windows CE devices, as well as the WebTV service. It is expected to be available in mid-1998.

"We believe General Magic continues to develop innovative technologies and applications," said Nathan Myhrvold, chief technology officer at Microsoft. "A natural language voice user interface, such as Serengeti’s, is a powerful and flexible way to access information that we think will be pervasive. Products like Serengeti can provide users with worldwide access to much of their important information. We are pleased to see General Magic’s integration of Serengeti with Microsoft applications such as Outlook and Internet Explorer, and General Magic's exclusive use of Windows NT-based servers in its Network Operations Center."

For more information on Serengeti, please visit the General Magic Web site