Microsoft seeds second comms server release
Get ready to party like it's 2007
Microsoft is working on an update to its unified comms software, uninspiringly dubbed Office Communications Server 2007 R2.
The upcoming release is currently in private beta, and customers won’t be able to part with their hard-earned, credit-crunched cash for the software until February 2009 – if Microsoft RTMs on time, that is.
MS reckons its beefy collection of interlaced VoIP, video conferencing, and messaging tools could pull big biz its way despite the ongoing economic downturn.
However, the software giant remained shy on the number of sales it expects to score from the product – which will come loaded with group chat and screen-sharing tech in addition to the features found in OCS.
"This new release puts Microsoft on a rapid path to deliver voice software that does much more than a network private branch exchange (PBX) and with much less cost,” said MS business division president Stephen Elop.
A license for the standard edition of the current version of OCS 2007 starts at $699 a pop.
Redmond first trumpeted its plan for unified communications in 2006, with version one landing roughly a year ago. And it's not alone in getting terribly excited about the biz telephony market.
IBM and Ubuntu's commercial sponsor Canonical have also been punting their own versions of unified comms software at the corporate world in the past year or so. ®
We have been using Live Communications Server since LCS 2005 (pre-sp1) and are currently sitting on the SP1 version. I haven't had a chance to toy with 2007 outside of a test lab.
The reality is, it's a clean, simple messaging product, and, (here's the kicker) integrates with outlook. Now, the hardcore Open Saucers amongst you will cry out in pain at the thought of Outlook, but, tragically, I have yet to see a viable business-class alternative to Outlook/Exchange.
So, that in mind, LCS integrates nicely with outlook, and lets me use these cool "tab" things. The cool "tab" things are little more than an IE window available as a "tab" on the bottom of the communicator that displays a website. It does, however, offer a bloody fantastic way of pushing out a thin version of the corporate Intranet.
Oh, and links to all the relevant corporate files, parsed, of course, based on the user that is logged into that copy of Office Communicator. Which allows for a lovely single-sign-on to most corporate intranet services all based on that little "tab" in communicator. (And the fact that communicator passes the logon info as a POST item to my PHP scripts.)
Now, proper security has users re-authenticate for sensitive areas, and a bunch of other items, but it does cut down on the day-to-day bits the drones have to worry about. All they really have to remember is their windows logon and password, and for most people, they will only have to use it when they log in during the morning, or when they have been away from their desk long enough for the screen saver to lock them out. They never have to be confused by using their "windows password" for other services. (Which confuses most of them greatly.)
Communicator has always served it's purposes for internal communications, and the little "save as e-mail" feature is a godsend, for those of us who use our inbox as our "todo" list.
Honestly, try before you buy, but I have found that instant messengers have a place in the corporate environment, and this particular client/server package has proved it's value to our small business a hundred times over. We've only 4 stores in four cities, and maybe 50 staff, but it's worth the dosh to splash on this.
Oh, and this project did come from IT and no, I am not a Microsoft shill. We actually only use MS in "communications and legacy apps" VMs for our users, and the appropriate directory servers. The rest is Linux. Microsoft makes a LOT of crap, (Vista, Office 2007, I'm looking at you,) but they do have the odd gem. Live Communications Server is one of those.
I always thought RTM meant "return to maker/manufacturer" or "read the manual" (later RTFM of course). Perhaps you did mean that . . . . . .
@Who wants this crap?
Because Asterix varies in stability from one version to the next and the support options are shit. We have it at work and can't wait to rip it out.