Sunday, June 25, 2006

Microsoft Unveils Unified Communications Product Road Map

Microsoft unveiled its Unified Communications product road map and announced new technologies that will be part of the forthcoming Microsoft Office system 2007.



Microsoft plans to bring together the 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.



"Unified communications will reduce complexity by putting people at the center of the communications experience. Our goal is to integrate all of the ways we contact each other in a single environment, using a single identity that spans phones, PCs and other devices. Our vision is to make it easy for people to reach each other using the mode of communication that is the most productive, on the device that is most convenient, while at the same time providing individuals with the highest levels of control over when and how they can be reached, and by whom," stated Microsoft's Bill Gates.



Microsoft introduced the following capabilities of its new and updated servers, services and devices:

  • Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, a flexible, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standards-based real-time communication platform that enables presence-based VoIP call management; audio-, video- and web conferencing; and instant messaging communication within and across existing software applications, services and devices.


  • Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 unified messaging goes beyond e-mail and today's stand-alone voice-mail systems to deliver a unified inbox experience that includes e-mail, voice mail and faxing functionality, as well as new capabilities such as speech-based auto attendant allowing users to access their communications from any phone.


  • Microsoft Office Communicator 2007, a unified communications client that works in tandem with Office Communications Server 2007 to deliver a presence-based, enterprise VoIP "softphone"; secure, enterprise-grade instant messaging that allows for intercompany federation and connectivity to public instant messaging networks such as MSN, AOL and Yahoo!; one-to-one and multiparty video- and audioconferencing; and webconferencing. As with the previous versions, Office Communicator 2007 will be available in desktop, browser-based and Windows Mobile-based versions.


  • Microsoft Office Live Meeting, a rich conferencing service designed to help users more effectively collaborate, conduct training and deliver presentations using just a PC and an Internet connection. Improvements to Office Live Meeting include support for e-learning, enhanced audio and video capabilities including VoIP, a streamlined user interface, seamless integration with the Microsoft Office system and simpler deployment.



  • Microsoft Office RoundTable, an audio-video collaboration device with a unique 360-degree camera. When combined with Office Communications Server 2007, RoundTable delivers an immersive conferencing experience that extends the meeting environment across multiple locations. Meeting participants on site and in remote locations gain a panoramic view of everyone in the conference room as well as close-up views of individual participants as they take turns speaking.


  • Microsoft Office Communicator phone experience, Communicator-based software designed to run an innovative set of new voice and video devices -- including business-enabled IP desktop phones -- from Polycom Inc., LG-Nortel Co. Ltd. and Thomson Telecom. This is a new ecosystem designed to run on dedicated communications devices in tandem with Office Communications Server 2007 to extend and enhance the Microsoft unified communications experience.


  • PC peripheral devices, such as USB handsets, wireless USB headsets, USB webcams and PC monitors with built-in audio and video components. Devices from industry partners GN Netcom Inc., Logitech, Motorola, Plantronics Inc., Samsung and Tatung Co. will work with Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 to deliver a compelling communication experience on the PC.


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 the 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 2007http://www.microsoft.com

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