Microsoft Ready To Dominate VoIP
Usage of Voice over Internet Protocol technology should start to rise at the business level, as Microsoft opened a private beta of its Office Communications Server 2007 for testing.
Back in August 2005, Microsoft acquired a little privately-held VoIP provider called Teleo. Initially they placed Teleo within MSN, but Microsoft has moved beyond that to make VoIP technology a core benefit of their software line.
At the time of the acquisition, we suggested Microsoft could extend VoIP to its Office products. Teleo’s technology would enable an Office user to click on a phone number in an Excel spreadsheet and connect to it, all from the desktop.
Today, Microsoft announced this functionality would be part of their Office Communications Server, now entering a private beta test with about 2,500 people taking it through its paces.
“The new voice server will also allow workers to instantly launch a phone call from 2007 Microsoft Office applications, such as Office Word 2007, Office Outlook 2007 or Office Communicator, by simply clicking on a colleague’s name to determine his or her availability and initiate a person-to-person or multiparty call,” a company spokesperson said.
Where the old Microsoft may have tried to make this a proprietary and exclusive product, the new Microsoft has learned a little bit about playing nice with other companies and using standards. In this case, it means the Session Initiation Protocol used by a host of networking industry companies like Cisco, Avaya, and Nortel among others.
Microsoft’s venture into VoIP poses a challenge to the telecom firms that do a lot of business providing telephone service to Microsoft’s enterprise customers. Imagine if a chunk of international calling business suddenly vanishes from a telecom’s balance sheet when a company shifts to VoIP.
That has been a concern for some time, but becomes more of one with Microsoft in the mix. Rather than trying to make an ad-hoc solution fit the business, here’s Microsoft with a shrink-wrapped package of software and a support plan. A telco can’t dismiss such a solution as too difficult to implement, because it probably won’t be.
A year has passed since the Teleo purchase. Another year should see if Microsoft can force a shift in the voice marketplace on a broad scale.
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.