RealTime IT News

Microsoft Discovers VoIP

Microsoft said it will begin letting people test its new voice server software, enabling users to place Internet-based calls from Office 2007 applications.

The announcement is the continuation of a VoIP plan first outlined in June.

Although Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 won't be released until the end of the second quarter of next year, 2,500 people can now preview the software as part of a private beta program.

Using the server software along with Office 2007, users can determine whether a friend is online. Office Communications Server will replace Live Communications Server, which was centered on office IM.

In a statement, Microsoft said the software will enable companies to offer VoIP services while also controlling how and when to integrate Internet calling with existing infrastructure, including desktop phones, data networks and PBX systems.

"With this new open architecture and broad interoperability, Office Communications Server 2007 will give IT managers the flexibility to determine when and how and in what way they move their communications infrastructure forward," Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Unified Communications Group, said.

Microsoft said its new voice server will be compatible with VoIP enterprise heavyweights Avaya , Cisco and Nortel .

In-Stat analyst Jim McGregor told internetnews.com that it is more critical for Microsoft to offer a VoIP product than anyone else, adding that Linux has done very well in the telecom market.

Small businesses will initially be attracted to Microsoft and the lure of cost savings from IP phone service. However, the company will eventually want enterprise-level customers, which makes today's reassurances important.

"No one makes a jump when there are compatibility questions," said McGregor.

As part of the effort to convince enterprises, Microsoft is hosting a Technology Adoption Program (TAP) Summit and inviting representatives from around 100 enterprises to attend.