Microsoft finds voice in business communications push

Business comms market gets 800-lb gorilla as new new unified communications products are claimed to enable firms to halve average VoIP costs

In what is surely a huge wake up call to the business communications market, Microsoft has announced a range of unified communications products and services that it says will deliver savings to customers.


Launched by no less than Bill Gates himself, the new unified communications software are described as enabling firms to take the first step toward streamlining workplace communications and helping reduce the cost of the average corporate voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) system by half.


“In the next decade, sweeping technology innovations driven by the power of software will transform communications,” Gates said.  “[Microsoft] will enable fundamental advances in the way people communicate and collaborate at work.”


The new unified communications system is based on Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 that delivers VoIP, video, instant messaging, conferencing and presence within Office applications people and upcoming versions of Microsoft ERP and CRM products.


Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 provides the client software for phone, instant messaging and video communications that works across the PC, mobile phone and Web browser and Microsoft Office Live Meeting enables workers to conduct meetings, share documents, utilise video and record discussions.


Also included is Microsoft RoundTable, a conferencing phone with a 360-degree camera that captures a panoramic view of meeting participants, tracks the speaker and can record meetings and a service pack update of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. The industry’s leading e-mail, voice mail, calendaring and unified messaging platform.


More than 50 partners have committed to the Microsoft communication cause including Nortel Networks with software-based solutions and applications to enhance Office Communications Server; Ericsson, whose Enterprise Mobility Gateway will be built on VoIP call management in Office Communications Server; Mitel Networks has announced plans to develop a software-based solution that uses Office Communications Server’s VoIP call management capabilities to meet the needs of SMEs.

Among the announcement of software support, SAP will integrate Office Communications Server with Duet software, which is jointly developed with Microsoft and provides access to SAP processes and data through Microsoft Office applications. Conferencing firm Tandberg will build a video and web conferencing package incorporating Microsoft unified communications software. Seven hardware manufacturers have announced global availability of 15 new Microsoft UC-qualified phones and devices such as handsets, wireless phones, webcams and laptops.

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