Microsoft No Longer Incommunicado

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The Beast of Redmond is leaving no stone unturned in its quest to maintain its presence in the office. At a weekend conference Microsoft unveiled a slew of new communication products incorporating email, instant messaging, mobile and VoIP telephonoy, and audio-, video-, and webconferencing.

Microsoft No Longer Incommunicado
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Calling the program “Unified Communications,” the new offerings are designed to be built into the Microsoft Office system 2007 wave of products, including Microsoft Exchange Server, Outlook, and Microsoft Speech Server. The company has teamed up with HP, Motorola, and Siemens to deliver its new line of products.

Microsoft says HP will provide hardware devices and systems integration services based on the unified communications platform; Motorola has agreed to provide mobile device and network hardware based on Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator Mobile; Siemens is in charge of integrating telephony, audio-,video- and webconferencing, instant messaging and email into one platform.

“To achieve the productivity revolution we believe is possible with unified communications, we need to provide deeper integration of communications modes within the processes we use every day,” Anoop Gupta, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Unified Communications Group said at the conferenc.

“Ensuring all modes of communications are people-centric and presence-based will help people find and connect to the right person the first time using the most effective communication modes. Software will be the key to delivering on this promise, resulting in a more powerful end-user experience, real productivity enhancements, and compelling business value for our customers and partners.”

“Unified communications will drive the next major advancement in individual, team and organizational productivity in today’s 24×7, always-connected and increasingly mobile work environment,” said Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division.

“We believe that through software, we can transform business communications (bringing down both its cost and complexity) by now integrating voice communications with the familiar and powerful communications and collaboration experiences provided by Microsoft.”

Here’s Microsoft’s list of new offerings and their descriptions:

Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standards-based real-time communication platform that enables presence-based VoIP call management; audio-, video- and webconferencing; and instant messaging communication within and across existing software applications, services and devices.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 unified messaging creates a unified inbox that includes e-mail, voice mail and faxing functionality, as well as new capabilities such as speech-based auto attendant allowing users to access their communications from any phone.

Microsoft Office Communicator 2007, a unified communications client that works in tandem with Office Communications Server 2007 to deliver a presence-based, enterprise VoIP “softphone”; secure, enterprise-grade instant messaging that allows for connectivity to public instant messaging networks such as MSN, AOL and Yahoo!; one-to-one and multiparty video- and audioconferencing; and webconferencing. As with the previous versions, Office Communicator 2007 will be available in desktop, browser-based and Windows Mobile-based versions.

Microsoft Office Live Meeting, a conferencing service designed to help users deliver presentations using a PC and an Internet connection. Improvements to Office Live Meeting include support for e-learning, enhanced audio and video capabilities including VoIP, a streamlined user interface, and integration with the Microsoft Office system and simpler deployment.

Microsoft Office RoundTable, an audio-video collaboration device with a unique 360-degree camera. An extension of the Office Communications Server 2007, RoundTable helps create a meeting environment across multiple locations. Meeting participants on site and in remote locations gain a panoramic view of everyone in the conference room as well as close-up views of individual participants as they take turns speaking.

Microsoft Office Communicator phone experience, Communicator-based software designed to run a set of new voice and video devices – including business-enabled IP desktop phones – from Polycom Inc., LG-Nortel Co. Ltd. and Thomson Telecom. This is a new ecosystem designed to run on dedicated communications devices in tandem with Office Communications Server 2007.

PC peripheral devices, such as USB handsets, wireless USB headsets, USB webcams and PC monitors with built-in audio and video components. Devices from industry partners GN Netcom Inc., Logitech, Motorola, Plantronics Inc., Samsung and Tatung Co. will work with Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 to deliver a compelling communication experience on the PC


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