Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007

Published: 19 Oct 2007

This week, spirits were high in San Francisco as Microsoft launched its much anticipated Office Communication Server 2007 (OCS) and Office Communicator 2007 (MOC) applications, along with Live Meeting 7 (for hosted web conferencing), Microsoft RoundTable (for video conferencing), the Quality of Experience monitoring server and the RT audio codec. With Bill Gates and Jeff Raikes as keynote speakers, Microsoft announced the releases with great fanfare, leaving no doubt that the company sees these next-generation unified communications technologies as critical to its business.

However, observers could be excused for wondering whether the hype is justified.

Despite all the marketing noise Microsoft has made this year, October marks the first time the vendor has shipping product to truly deliver UC capabilities to users. The software effectively puts the vendor on a par with rivals IBM and Cisco, as well as quieter competitors, such as Avaya, Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel and Siemens.

On the plus side, Microsoft's approach is in line with Frost & Sullivan's definition of unified communications (for the complete definition, please see SPIE 2007 # 32: Unified Communications Demystified). We define a unified communications application as an integrated set of voice, data and video communications, all of which leverage PC- and telephony-based presence information. UC applications are meant to simplify communications for the end user by making it easy to "click to communicate." We imagine that these UC dashboards can and will serve as the default communication application for knowledge workers of the future, much as e-mail and desktop/mobile phones serve that role today.

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