Microsoft has reinforced plans to boost its presence in Hong Kong by cementing key alliances with two of the SAR's biggest companies. The US software giant yesterday unveiled a strategic partnership with property developer Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) and launched an Internet broadband venture with Cable & Wireless HKT. Microsoft president Steve Ballmer also met Pacific Century CyberWorks chairman Richard Li Tzar-kai and reaffirmed the US company's intention to become an anchor tenant in the Cyber-Port project. Microsoft last week said it would establish a headquarters in Hong Kong for the region excluding Japan and double its SAR staff within the next eight months. As the first stage of its tie-up with SHKP, Microsoft will provide integrated computer services to a new generation of 'intelligent' commercial and industrial buildings developed by the Hong Kong property company. The 'Digital Dashboard' service will offer customised Internet portals, scheduling, video-conferencing, e-mail and electronic-commerce applications. The service is primarily targeted at small and medium-sized enterprises, providing them with an Internet-ready working environment. The service would be offered to tenants at an 'affordable' monthly charge, SHKP said. Pilot installation would begin in SHKP's 240,000 square feet Apec Plaza in Kwun Tong, and would then be extended to other projects including Millennium City in Kwun Tong and Landmark North in Sheung Shui. Mr Ballmer said: '[Digital Dashboard] helps knowledge workers locate key information more quickly, collaborate more easily and become more productive.' The two companies would share profits from the project, which did not require heavy investment. SHKP vice-chairman and managing director Raymond Kwok Ping-luen said: 'This partnership will not be limited to just commercial applications of knowledge management. 'We will be exploring other business opportunities with Microsoft, including the development of new IT [information technology] services and products.' These included Web TV and video-streaming. With C&W HKT, Microsoft launched iZene.netvigator.com, a consumer Internet portal intended to boost usage of the operator's broadband network and help it expand into e-commerce. Users of C&W HKT's broadband Internet service will have free use of iZene to download Microsoft software, view movies and video content and play interactive games. Future applications will include e-commerce services, multi-point video-conferencing and e-mail services that feature video clips of the sender. Overseas users will pay a $30 monthly subscription fee. Mr Ballmer said: 'iZene won't be for everybody, not to start with. 'It's tailored and optimised for people who have high-speed Internet access.' C&W HKT operates the SAR's only broadband Internet service with a low subscriber base of about 100,000 users. However, Wharf (Holding) unit Hong Kong Cable is expected to launch broadband Internet services next year, sparking a price war. iZene, which now contains only Chinese text, will add English-language content within the next few months, and be targeted at overseas Chinese. 'We can take iZene worldwide,' C&W HKT chief executive Linus Cheung Wing-lam said. 'We believe we are leading the world in this development. We have set our vision beyond Hong Kong.' Microsoft and C&W HKT declined to comment on the development costs of the project, which was first announced in March by Mr Cheung and Microsoft chief executive Bill Gates. The companies will share revenues, which are expected to come from subscription fees, advertising and e-commerce services. Meanwhile, Mr Li said he had received 'encouraging' support for the Cyber-Port from Microsoft after a meeting with Mr Ballmer. The US firm said two weeks ago that it was committed to being one of the 14 anchor tenants of the $13 billion Pokfulam project and would establish a software-development centre there. 'Microsoft is taking Hong Kong as a one-stop-shop for their IT business in the region,' Mr Li said. CyberWorks and Microsoft had not discussed any business co-operation but he did not rule out the possibility in the future.