Microsoft and Nortel introduce new unified communications apps

Microsoft and Nortel's Innovative Communications Alliance takes unified communications to the next level with its latest combined applications.

At an event in Rockefeller Center, Microsoft and Nortel outlined their unified communications roadmaps and announced the release of several products to their companies' joint portfolios.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Nortel CEO and President Mike Zafirovski said the companies are teaming up to release the Unified Communications Integrated Branch, Unified Messaging and Conferencing.

Microsoft and Nortel originally joined forces in July 2006 and formed the Innovative Communications Alliance to encourage enterprises to make the transition to VoIP and unified communications.

"Our goal is to close the gap between the devices we use to communicate and the business applications we use to run our businesses, giving employees the power to use information more quickly," Zafirovski said.

Ballmer and Zafirovski explained that the new solutions, designed to maximize business communications, could provide a simplified user experience and improve employee productivity by incorporating voice, email, instant messaging and multimedia conferencing into one application.

Specifically, the new products introduced include:

  • A conferencing solution that will be a part of Microsoft Office Communicator 2007, with features similar to Nortel's Multimedia Conferencing
  • A SIP-based interoperability between Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Unified Messaging and Nortel's Communication Server 1000, designed to ease customer deployments
  • A Unified Communications Integrated Branch, which will combine Nortel and Microsoft technology into one piece of hardware. Intended to service remote offices, it is expected to provide cost-effective, high-quality, easy-to-deploy VoIP and unified communications.

Citing a study by Harris Interactive Services Bureau, Ballmer added: "The average employee gets more than 50 messages every day on up to seven different devices or applications. Software can and will help address the ongoing challenge of managing communications and ... we will evolve VoIP and unified communications to integrate all the ways we contact each other in a simple environment, using a single identity across phones, PCs and other devices."

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