IDC Says Microsoft Could Be a Telecom Player

A new report from IDC suggests that Microsoft could emerge as a major force in the burgeoning telecom sector of voice over IP (VoIP) services.

Since the battle for control of the enterprise desktop may center on new and emerging technologies that let users communicate via voice over IP data networks or the Internet, instead of over the telephone companies’ public switched networks, expect Microsoft to be in the thick of the fray, the Framingham, Mass.-based technology research and consulting firm said.

“Conferencing and collaboration are becoming more important,” Tom
Valovic, director of IDC’s IP Telephony Program, told “We’re seeing a surge in video conferencing, web
conferencing and voice conferencing.” Advanced IP-PBX systems will make
these available at the desktop level, and eventually, Valovic believes,
they’ll hook into business systems and software such as customer
relationship management applications.

Collaborative applications that offer multiple routes to a user and
multiple ways to share information represent what Valovic, calls “the
logical end point of IT and telecom convergence.”

Microsoft has an advantage in this area thanks to its instant messaging
technology and its decision to incorporate the Session
Initiated Protocol (SIP) standard into its Microsoft Office RTC Server 2003
and the Windows XP operating system, according to Valovic. RTC Server is
intended to provide secure, enterprise instant messaging and presence —
the ability to detect whether a user is online and available. It is also
geared to be a platform for the kinds of communications technologies that
Valovic is talking about.

Sending voice over data networks would let Microsoft compete with IP-PBX
vendors such as Cisco, Avaya, Alcatel, Siemens, Nortel, and 3Com. “This is
an embryonic market,” Valovic said. “Nobody really knows what these
applications will be, how successful they’ll be, or how well integrated
with computing platforms they’ll be. But the real kicker is, IPPBX, unlike
traditional PBX, is all about software.” And selling software is something
Microsoft knows all about.

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