Microsoft Public Beta of Office Communications Server 2007

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Microsoft Public Beta of Office Communications Server 2007

Microsoft will open the public beta of its VoIP and unified communications server, Office Communications Server 2007, as well as its unified communications client, Office Communicator 2007, later this month. I wrote a detailed article on Office Communications Server 2007 last year.

"The move to Web-based phone systems will gain momentum during the next three years and Microsoft's new server software will transform the telecommunication systems industry the way its Windows operating system changed the computer industry", said Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's business division. He added, "Microsoft sees the shift by business organizations to Web-based phone systems running on its software to generate "billions" of dollars in revenue for the company."

Billions for Microsoft in the VoIP space? While I don't know about that, certainly Microsoft could do better in the VoIP game after stumbling with NetMeeting and other attempted forays into the VoIP space. Office Communications Server will compete with companies such as Avaya, Cisco and Nortel (Though Microsoft and Nortel have a partnership). Microsoft's competitive advantage is that they will leverage Office suite and Exchange 2007 and integrate it with the new server to provide a "unified communications" solution.


View Jeff Raikes Webcast on Microsoft's communications suite
(.wmv file, 4 min., 22 sec)

At a VoiceCon keynote given today, Jeff Raikes made some bold predictions about the transformation of voice communications, stating that he believes by the year 2010 more than 100 million people will have the ability to make phone calls from Microsoft Office system applications such as Outlook, Word and SharePoint. He also stated that, in the same timeframe, a VoIP network will cost half of what it does today.

Jack Bauer - phone On a related note, just yesterday Psytechnics announced that tests of Microsoft’s pre-release voice software were consistently better than the quality provided by Cisco’s 7961 IP phones with version 5.0 of the Cisco Call Manager. Better than Cisco phones? Better tell Jack Bauer over at CTU headquarters about this! CTU is running exclusively on Cisco IP telephones. Jack can't be having 2nd class VoIP quality! Quality of Service (QoS) is critical in these national security matters, ya know! ;)

Additionally, Microsoft is providing the interoperability specifications for both products to enable partners to integrate with Microsoft's platform. Since it's based on SIP, partners should be able to deliver a holistic unified experience that can integrate with other applications, such as CRM applications, as well as legacy PBXs. Of course, click-to-call functionality can be done simply clicking on the person's name within other Microsoft Office applications.

Microsoft sent me the eval software a few weeks ago for a product review, but I haven't had a chance to install it. I actually have a meeting with Microsoft in NYC scheduled for next week to check out the core capabilities of this new Microsoft solution. Microsoft is even taking me out to dinner afterwards. Don't worry, I can't be bribed for a good review. Well, I am a chocoholic, so some Lindt chocolates might earns a few extra stars in the review. I'm kidding folks! - though not about being a chocoholic!


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