Microsoft is in the VoIP Game with Next Wave of Business Communications Software

Microsoft has announced the worldwide availability of Microsoft’s unified communications software, with Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft and Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division hailing the move as the first step toward streamlining workplace communications and helping reduce the cost of the average corporate VoIP system by half.

“In the next decade, sweeping technology innovations driven by the power of software will transform communications,” Gates said. “Working with partners, we’re making rapid advances that will enable fundamental advances in the way people communicate and collaborate at work.”

Microsoft has launched unified communications and VoIP software that includes the following:

– Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007. Software that delivers VoIP, video, instant messaging, conferencing and presence within the applications people already know and use such as Microsoft Office system applications and upcoming versions of Microsoft Dynamics ERP products and the Microsoft CRM release due later this year

– Microsoft Office Communicator 2007. Client software for phone, instant messaging and video communications that works across the PC, mobile phone and Web browser

– Microsoft Office Live Meeting. The next version of Microsoft’s conferencing service that enables workers to conduct meetings, share documents, utilize video and record discussions from virtually any computer

– 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

– Service pack update of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. The industry’s leading e-mail, voice mail, calendaring and unified messaging platform

“Unified communications software will transform business communications as fundamentally as e-mail did in the 1990s,” Raikes said. “Today, Microsoft is in the VoIP game, and our customers and partners are already winning with better economics and new business opportunities.”

More than 50 partners joined Microsoft to announce new products and services built on Microsoft’s unified communications platform. These partners include the following:

– Systems integrators. Seven hundred ninety-three partners worldwide have achieved Microsoft’s UC Specialization in less than four months since Microsoft opened the program. These partners are trained to help customers deploy Microsoft unified communications software. Around 100 are based in the UK.

– Telephony providers. Three global telephony leaders are announcing their road maps to build next-generation software applications on Microsoft’s voice platform:
– Nortel Networks confirmed pending availability of five software-based solutions and applications to enhance Office Communications Server as part of the Innovative Communications Alliance. Nortel also confirmed it is on track to more than double the number of Office Communications Server certified engineers in the UC Systems Integration practice.

– Ericsson announced the Ericsson Enterprise Mobility Gateway, which will be built on VoIP call management in Office Communications Server to bring office communications to any mobile device, reducing mobile costs and maximizing existing investments.

– Mitel has announced plans to develop a software-based solution that leverages Office Communications Server’s VoIP call management capabilities to meet the specialized telephony needs of small and medium-sized businesses in vertical markets.

– Independent software vendors. Independent software vendors announced plans to incorporate presence and click-to-communicate features from Microsoft’s unified communications platform into their software applications. In addition, SAP AG plans to 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. This will enable business users to see presence and to click to communicate while working within Duet.

– Phone and device manufacturers. Seven manufacturers announced global availability of 15 new Microsoft UC-qualified phones and devices today, increasing choices for customers. Microsoft is working closely with more than 15 strategic partners to develop new UC-enabled endpoints including handsets, wireless phones, webcams and laptops. Conferencing leader Tandberg also announced its plans to build a video and webconferencing solution incorporating Microsoft unified communications software to ensure that customers can maximize their investment in existing infrastructure.
Continued Commitment to Interoperability

Microsoft also unveiled Unified Communications Open Interoperability, a telephony system qualification program, to give customers the assurance that Microsoft unified communications software works with their telephony systems.