Feeds

Microsoft throws unified communications party

Bill Gates signs guitar

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Today, in downtown San Francisco, Microsoft's long-awaited lineup of "unified communications software" was officially announced by chairman Bill Gates, business division president Jeff Raikes, and a surly-looking guitarist in a red velvet jacket.

As he officially introduced the world to this collection of interwoven VoIP, video conferencing, and messaging tools, Gates called it "a big bet that we've made and one we feel great about". Raikes insisted that the announcement was "a milestone not just for Microsoft but a milestone for the industry." And Mr Red Velvet played a guitar tagged with Bill Gates's signature and a Microsoft unified communications logo.

Redmond first trumpeted its plan for so-called unified communications more than a year ago, and this morning, it rolled into San Francisco's Bill Graham Civic Auditorium to proclaim that five new comms products are now available across the globe.

Servers, clients, and panoramic views

The centerpiece is Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, or OCS, a back-end behemoth that provides business types with VoIP, video conferencing, and instant messaging as well as "presence tracking." You know, those little icons that tell you what your colleagues are up to and how you can reach them.

End users can tap into OCS from any Office app, but Microsoft has also introduced a client-side option known as Office Communicator 2007. Think of it as Outlook to OCS's Exchange. It runs on the desktop or from a web browser, and there's a version for mobile phones too.

At the same time, Gates and company have unveiled a new version of their hosted conferencing service, Office Live Meeting, that offers many of the same comms tools available from OCS. And they've introduced their very own video conferencing hardware appliance. When used in tandem with Live Meeting, OCS, or other video conferencing software, the $3000 Microsoft RoundTable provides a panoramic view of meeting participants.

Oh, and there's a new service pack update for Exchange that ties Microsoft email, calendaring, and contacts server into this unified communications extravaganza.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Next page: He wore red velvet

More from The Register

next story
Sysadmin Day 2014: Quick, there's still time to get the beers in
He walked over the broken glass, killed the thugs... and er... reconnected the cables*
VMware builds product executables on 50 Mac Minis
And goes to the Genius Bar for support
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
Microsoft says 'weird things' can happen during Windows Server 2003 migrations
Fix coming for bug that makes Kerberos croak when you run two domain controllers
Cisco says network virtualisation won't pay off everywhere
Another sign of strain in the Borg/VMware relationship?
Forrester says Australia, not China, is next boom market for cloud
It's cloudy but fine down under, analyst says
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.