Mary Jo Foley reports:

"According to partners, who requested anonymity, a hush-hush Microsoft team known as the Unified Communications Services group is working on the hosted SMB (small/midsize business) bundle. The offering will likely include e-mail, unified messaging, instant messaging, VOIP and data-conferencing capabilities all rolled into a single, hosted collaboration suite, partners said. A "smart personal agent" is central to the pending offering, as well, partners added.

Microsoft plans to target the offering at SMBs who are interested in an integrated communications experience that will be managed by others — most likely Microsoft partners, or maybe even Microsoft itself — partners said. Microsoft will pitch the hosted bundle as an easy way for smaller companies to enjoy features such as intelligent call routing, auto-attendant voice response, and the like.

When asked about the hosted collaboration suite, a company spokeswoman said, "While Microsoft believes that businesses both large and small can benefit from unified, real-time communications we don't have a product as you describe to announce at this time."