Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 Optimized IP Devices

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Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 Optimized IP Devices

Today, Microsoft is announcing several products that are optimized to work with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007. As part of today's announcement, Microsoft has launched a unified communications qualification program – including 15 phones and devices which are on the path to qualification with Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator (now in public beta). These include Internet protocol (IP) phones, Universal Serial Bus (USB) phones, conferencing phones, wired and wireless headsets, Webcams, monitors, PCs and PC peripherals.

Several of these products were already out in the marketplace, but some are brand new, so let's focus on the "new" phone devices. First, the Polycom CX700 IP Phone is the mystery phone that I discussed previously. It delivers wideband audio and features a sleek design, a full duplex, hands-free speakerphone, but most importantly, the Polycom CX700 IP Phone features a fully embedded Office Communicator 2007 client, providing direct, on-device access to the features and capabilities of Office Communications Server 2007, all using a bright, touch-screen color display. For instance, from the phone you can access your Calendar information. Here's a picture of it with the Polycom logo:


The CX700 also delivers enhanced presence status information and voicemail indication via an intelligent Windows CE based user interface, and enables users to easily control their calls, including click-to-call, conferencing, transferring, holding, forwarding and ending calls. In addition, the CX700 includes a full telephone keypad, a scroll wheel for navigating the user interface and keys for controlling volume, mute, speakerphone and headset mode. The Polycom CX700 IP Phone is expected to ship in the third quarter of 2007 and will be available worldwide through Polycom sales channel partners.

The CX700 is a standalone IP Phone with the following features:
• Embedded Office Communicator 2007 client which does not require a PC to make calls or to gain access to personal and contact information. High-Fidelity Speaker and Microphone
• High-quality wideband audio for the best possible voice call quality, whether in handset, full duplex speakerphone or headset mode. Personal Configuration
• Users can use the biometric fingerprint reader or the on-screen keyboard to log in and personalize the CX700 with their own communications preferences. Easy Call Management
• Easily monitor and manage your calls through the Windows CE-based touch-screen interface. Click-to-call with name-based calling from a user’s contact list or call logs. Enhanced incoming call information lets users quickly decide how to deal with a caller.

The next product announced as part of the OCS 2007 qualification program is the LG-Nortel IP Phone 8540 which is strikingly similar to the Polycom CX700.
The phone's casing & dimensions look exactly the same and it's only the button layouts that are different. (compare this with previous photo) Even the button layouts are very similar, so perhaps Nortel OEMed this phone from Polycom or vice-versa. The LG-Nortel IP Phone 8540 is an intelligent IP Phone from LG-Nortel optimized to support Microsoft’s Unified Communications solutions. This “People Centric” standalone IP phone is a highly reliable purpose-built terminal that combines advanced voice performance with embedded Microsoft Office Communicator 2007. The LG-Nortel IP Phone 8540 helps improve productivity and work performance for information workers by offering a rich communications experience supporting simple operations, easy management, and rich presence awareness. It features name-based dialing, simple conference call setup and powerful presence status. The device includes a 5.7" TFT LCD touch-screen display and a very cool biometric (fingerprint) reader for secure login and quick, easy access to information from the device and server. Users can also login using a PIN, which will automatically load user preferences such as contacts, call logs, voicemail and other settings. When users log in to the LG-Nortel IP Phone 8540, Office Communications Server 2007 provides colleagues’ presence information, allowing users to see the other party’s availability and initiate a voice call simply by touching the screen or wheel. The LG-Nortel IP Phone 8540 supports wideband audio technology, enabling generally improved sound quality. It also features Power over Ethernet - IEEE 802.3af Class 2 (7W max)

Best of the rest:
polycom cx100The Polycom CX100 is a small portable (pocketable), USB-based speakerphone that interfaces seamlessly with Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 to enable high-quality hands-free calls with excellent wideband voice quality. The CX100 is identical to the previously released Polycom Communicator, a model designed to work with Skype.

Interestingly, the CX100 won't be available until 3rd quarter 2007 when in theory it should work now, since as far as I can tell both models simply using the standard Microsoft USB audio class, so it isn't a matter of the software being ready. Heck I have a Polycom Communicator sitting on my desk now that I installed (with no drivers needed) and used it as a speakerphone device from everything from Skype calls to Windows Media Player streaming radio. It works as an audio device for any application.  Although I should point out that the Communicator has a blue Skype button on it to launch the Skype application, so perhaps it's a matter of getting the units manufactured with a Microsoft Office Communicator button instead. Also, for the Skype integration I did need to install Polycom's software, so it could be a combination of hardware and software.


Jabra 9350The Jabra GN9350 (see me review on the 9350) is among the first wireless headsets for VoIP on the market that features wideband audio. It has an impressive 6.8 kHz audio bandwidth that is more than twice that of conventional telephones and leverages DECT 6.0 for excellent voice quality, distance, and long battery life.

Others in the OCS 2007 qualification program:
- Polycom CX200 Desktop Phone Wired USB phone with speakerphone, aka "Catalina"

- Polycom CX400 Cordless Phone, aka "Orca" - roam up to 30 feet (10 meters) from their computer. The CX400 handset contains a high-resolution color display that provides enhanced presence information and call status details. The CX400’s base cradle connects and powers through an integrated USB cable for easy installation, and charges the CX400 handset battery for up to 10 hours of talk time. The CX400 is fully Plug-and- Play compatible, requiring no special drivers or software includes keys for controlling volume, mute speakerphone mode and use of an external headset. LE D indicators provide the user with call forwarding status and message waiting indication. A large LE D conveys the presence status of the user. The Polycom CX200 Desktop Phone connects and powers through an integrated USB cable

- LG-Nortel Bluetooth Headset (IP8502) is a Bluetooth wireless solution (with USB-to-PC connectivity) that is "optimized" to work with Microsoft Office Communications 2007. It's just your standard USB/Bluetooth wireless device, that allows you to make or receive calls on your PC without speakerphones as well as hear any PC audio applications wirelessly, but Microsoft has stamped it OCS 2007 "optimized".
- Jabra GN2000 - Wired USB headset with on/off hook and volume control
- Jabra GN9330 - Wireless USB headset
- LG-Nortel USB Phone (IP8501) - Wired USB handset with speakerphone, aka «Catalina»
- NEC UC Phone – USB phone device 
- Plantronics - Bluetooth headset
- Vitelix VX-100 - Wired USB phone without dialpad
- Vitelix VX-200 & VX-200 duo- Wired USB phones with additional features over VX-100 model 9i.e. LED indicators and keypad); VX-200 duo is a dual-mode phone (VoIP or PSTN, and other advanced features)

ASUS S7F
- The ASUS S7F is a new laptop with a built-in 1.3 megapixel 235° webcam that is optimized to work with OCS 2007.
- the SyncMaster 225UW is a new flatscreen LCS monitor that comes equipped with a built-in 2.0M pixel high-resolution webcam, dual-array microphone and speakers. It too is stamped as OCS 2007 "optimized". It features a 5ms response time, a 700:1 contrast ratio and 300cd/m2 brightness, the model is equipped to produce crisp, true-to-life images, while the wide 170/160 viewing angle further enhances the overall viewing experience. The monitor also incorporates a 2 port USB hub and dual inputs (DVI-D & Analog).

One final point, beginning this week, customers will be able to order partner-built Microsoft Unified Communications phones and devices to evaluate alongside the beta version of Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator 2007.


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