Microsoft makes big push for unified communications
Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, unveiled the plans at a strategy event in San Francisco saying: "We believe that through software, we can transform business communications, bringing down both its cost and complexity by now integrating voice communications with the familiar and powerful communications and collaboration experiences provided by Microsoft."
The software to help Microsoft realise its ambitions will be incorporated into Microsoft Office 2007 and related products. Microsoft will bring together its corporate e-mail offerings of Microsoft Exchange Server, which includes new unified messaging capabilities, Microsoft Office Outlook and Microsoft Speech Server, with updated versions of its real-time collaboration technologies and a set of new communications devices to form "a cohesive unified communications solution".
Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 is scheduled to be released in late 2006 or early 2007. Microsoft Speech Server 2007 will be available in late 2006. Communications Server 2007, Communicator 2007, Communicator phone experience, Live Meeting, RoundTable and IP-enabled business desktop phones featuring Communicator phone experience will complete Microsoft's unified communications solutions and are scheduled to be available in the second quarter of 2007.
Microsoft is forming new strategic alliances with Polycom, LG-Nortel and Thomson Telecom to develop and market versions of IP-enabled business desktop phones that will include Microsoft Office Communicator software and integrate seamlessly with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007.
GN Netcom, Logitech, Plantronics, Samsung and Tatung will deliver a range of business communications peripheral devices such as USB handsets, wireless USB headsets, USB webcams, and PC monitors with built-in audio and video components that will work with Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 and Office Communications Server.
Plantronics' Voyager 510-USB, claimed to be the first Bluetooth headset system optimised for VoIP connections, will support the integration and use of call management capabilities to be included in Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 and Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007.
Microsoft also announced systems integration partnerships with HP, IBM and Siemens and a marketing agreement with Motorola.
HP will provide enterprise servers and systems integration services for Microsoft's unified communications products, including Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, Microsoft Office Communicator 2007, Microsoft Office Live Meeting, Microsoft Office RoundTable, Communicator and Microsoft Exchange Server 2007.
HP is Microsoft's only global prime integrator for Exchange Server and has deployed more than 15 million seats of Exchange 2003 for enterprise customers worldwide.
Siemens will provide systems integration and support services to integrate its HiPath 8000 softswitch real-time telephony with Microsoft Exchange Server and Microsoft Office Live Communications Server using the Siemens OpenScape communications broker capability. Microsoft claims that this solution will provide enterprise customers with the ability to cost-effectively transition from conventional PABX and voice-mail communications systems to Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2007.
IBM will extend the reach of its upcoming Lotus Sametime 7.5 instant messaging software for enterprise customers by providing integration with Microsoft Outlook, Office and SharePoint applications. Sametime 7.5 will also offer direct connectivity to mobile devices from RIM and Nokia, as well as Microsoft Windows Mobile devices.
Lotus Sametime 7.5 is expected to be available in the third quarter of 2006. Mobile support for Lotus Sametime is expected to support RIM BlackBerry, Nokia and Windows Mobile devices with expected availability in the fourth quarter of 2006. Integration with Microsoft SharePoint, Outlook 2000 and above and Office XP and above is expected at the beginning of 2007.
With Motorola Microsoft has formed a multiyear joint marketing and development alliance to deliver unified communications solutions using Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 across Motorola mobile devices and network hardware.
The initial planned offering will start with the Motorola HC700 series rugged mobile computing devices and the Motorola Q smart phone. It will combine the presence awareness and instant messaging capabilities of Communications Server 2007 with Motorola's Windows Mobile 5.0-based devices through the integration of Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile with Motorola's MOTOPRO Mobility Suite and Wireless Services Manager products, enabling users to seamlessly communicate and collaborate across heterogeneous access networks.
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Tracking the telecoms industry since 1989, Stuart has been awarded Journalist Of The Year by the Australian Telecommunications Users Group (twice) and by the Service Providers Action Network. In 2010 he received the 'Kester' lifetime achievement award in the Consensus IT Writers Awards and was made a Lifetime Member of the Telecommunications Society of Australia. He was born in the UK, came to Australia in 1980 and has been here ever since.