Microsoft Surface = Threat to IP Phone Market

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Randy Savicky
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Microsoft Surface = Threat to IP Phone Market

Microsoft has already irked some of their hardware partners with Microsoft getting into the hardware business via their pending Microsoft Surface product launch later this year. Perhaps lost in the battle between Microsoft and their PC/laptop/tablet hardware partners is the pending battle that I predict between Microsoft and their Lync phone hardware partners, such as snom and Polycom.

In 2011, I wrote an article discussing how the Apple iPad (and also Android tablets) will be your next desktop IP phone. More recently, last month I wrote how the Microsoft Surface tablet could also be a game changer in the IP phone market:
This touch support [in Windows 8] will give Microsoft an advantage is fulfilling my prediction that tablets will replace the desktop phone. Windows 8 tablets running Lync will become the ultimate unified communications device, performing everything from your traditional voice (VoIP) to HD video conferencing, as well as collaboration, instant messaging, and all the other typical UC features. While the Apple iPad initially came into the enterprise mostly through the back door (employees bringing their personal iPads into office), I suspect enterprises will bring Windows 8 tablets through the front door, adopting Windows 8 tablets because of its superb enterprise communication features. I've already laid down the gauntlet and made the prediction that Windows 8 tablets will beat the iPad in the enterprise and certainly Lync on Windows 8 will help my prediction come to fruition.

The global IP phone market is roughly $2-$3 billion yearly, which I know Microsoft has been trying to crack with their Lync platform. While it is true that Lync utilizes the Lync softphone client, many enterprise users still prefer a hardware-based desktop phone, such as those offered by snom or Polycom.

But why have this:
polycom-lync-phone-desktop-pc.png

When you can simply have one device - Microsoft Surface running Lync?:


This one device is capable of running desktop enterprise apps (Pro version), email, browsing, and is multimedia-ready with support for VoIP and video conferencing. Don't want to use the built-in microphone and speakerphone on the Surface? No problem, just pair the Surface with your favorite Bluetooth headset or Bluetooth speakerphone. The point is the Microsoft Surface gives you voice portability anywhere you go. Sure most PBXs support call forwarding to your cell phone when remote, but UC clients such as Lync offer more than just voice. It can do HD video conferencing, presence, multi-party meetings with collaboration, etc. Often sales people are remote and perform presentations online - a feature built into the Lync platform. Sales people can hold online meetings with full VoIP and video support while staying in a hotel or telecommuting from home.

Why wouldn't the IT Director simply give sales executives a Microsoft Surface tablet instead of a desktop IP phone plus a desktop and/or laptop? For larger businesses offering one piece of hardware for all the employees' needs could easily add up to huge savings and also reduced TCO. There has been talk for years about how unified communications (UC) is going to be huge and indeed it has seen some successes. But often switching to a UC platform offered by Shoretel, Cisco, or Microsoft has been cost-prohibitive. The Microsoft Surface tablet's versatility and lowering of TCO could play an important role in convincing CTOs and other decision makers that now is the time to go UC with Microsoft Surface at the core.

I'll say it again, since it bears repeating - "Apple iPad initially came into the enterprise mostly through the back door (employees bringing their personal iPads into office), I suspect enterprises will bring Windows 8 tablets through the front door, adopting Windows 8 tablets because of its superb enterprise communication features. I've already laid down the gauntlet and made the prediction that Windows 8 tablets will beat the iPad in the enterprise and certainly Lync on Windows 8 will help my prediction come to fruition."

Lastly, I wanted to mention Lync 2013 is out soon and the Lync Team Blog has a recent post detailing what's new in Lync 2013. Some of the new features include, Quick Lync bar, persistent chat rooms, a new full screen icon, tabbed conversations, one-click start video call, Lync web app for PC & Mac with full video and VoIP support, and more.


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