So Microsoft and Cisco weren’t joking after all. After two years of apparently hard effort, Steve Balmer and John Chambers’ little helpers have finally told us how the Network Access Protection (NAP) and Network Admission Control (NAC) will work together.

That’s just as well, with Microsoft’s Vista not far off, and many people wondering if this was another initiative that had somehow been silently ditched. If it had disappeared, businesses would, of course, have been left with a Microsoft operating system standard for controlling endpoint access, and a Cisco network standard for doing the same thing, and not the vaguest suggestion of them working together.

Full interoperability won’t arrive until Longhorn, later in 2007. So that’s another two years from now then. But at least networking teams will be able to use one or the other without causing themselves problems.