Microsoft throws unified communications party
Bill Gates signs guitar
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.
Next page: He wore red velvet
Wasn't there a film called Anti-Trust that covered what is supiciously like this scenario?????They even made reference to Bill and Open Source.
Wrong @Smell My Finger
Shoretel does that just fine. Plus find me where ever I am. Plus runs on a nice 1u piece of hardware thats terrifically easy to provision more if we need it. The Voice Mail runs on MS but we virtualized that for ease of management since the server has crashed twice on it. But that's just the voice mail. The rest of the system works fine. MS idea that we can get rid of our desk phone while using their crap system is insane.
Just yesterday I was rebooting a users PC because she couldn't open Outlook appointments. Her phone rang. She was able to answer it. doh.
I'm personally happy with this development. We're a Microsoft shop and therefore it is far easier to support everything from a single vendor, not to mention the licensing benefits of being a certified partner. As long as it all works, which unlike what most Microsoft bashers think, usually does.