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Microsoft sneak peeks freshened comms server

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Microsoft has announced that the next incarnation of its unified communications software - code-named Communication Server 14 - will be available in the second half of the year. Earlier company roadmaps indicated this would be the case.

Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s unified communications group, demoed the new VoIP-meets-IM-meets-video-conferencing server at a comms-happy conference in Orlando, Florida, as he boasted that more than a dozen third-parties have announced tools designed to work with the platform.

According to All About Microsoft blogger Mary Jo-Foley, it will be called, yes, Office Communications Server 2010.

The new UCS incarnation will dovetail with Microsoft Office, SharePoint, and Exchange. It will be available both as a local server installation and as a Microsoft Office Communications Online web service. And it will be an "open platform" that will let you embed communications in "any application," according to Microsoft.

Pall demonstrated new tools that let you locate colleagues based on their professional expertise and determine where they are physically located. UCS is big on "presence tracking," showing you what your colleagues are up to and how they can be reached at any given time. Screenshots of the new server are available here. The client side of the new platform has a decidedly Facebookish feel.

Microsoft predicts that In the next three years, unified communications will become the norm in businesses, with more than half of VoIP calls at work including more than just voice. The company says that its Office Communications Server has grown by double digits every year for the last three years and that it's one of the fastest growing servers at Microsoft. ®

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