Microsoft Dials For Dollars

Microsoft is headed down a new path with
a raft of software designed to unify the corporate communications
experience.

In San Francisco, the company will say it can “transform business
communications” by integrating the phone with Microsoft products,
according to a statement from the software giant.

Such unification will be the next advance in how individuals,
groups and organizations work in what Jeff Raikes, president of
Microsoft’s Business Division, in a statement called “today’s 24×7,
always-connected and increasingly mobile work environment.”

As part of the launch of new products, Microsoft will unveil a 360-degree videoconference camera, as well as software for IP phones and
USB headsets. HP, Motorola and Siemens have been named as partners in
the new communications thrust.

“Basically, this is same old, same old, but bundled,” said Joe
Wilcox, analyst with JupiterResearch. Microsoft Exchange server was
the software goliath’s unified communications product.

Wilcox isn’t sure Cisco and other VoIP players are shaking in
their boots over Microsoft’s entrance in the area. “This is not an
area Microsoft has experience,” Wilcox said.

The new services include both software and services.

Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 will enable VoIP calls, videoconferencing and IM traffic across existing applications and services.

Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 will unify e-mail, voicemail and
faxing along with a speech-based attendant allowing users
to access their communications from any device.

Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 client software works with
Office Communications Server to provide a VoIP softphone that
connects to the MSN, AOL and Yahoo IM services. Communicator will also power IP desktop phones from Polycom, LG-Nortel and Thomson Telecom.

Microsoft Office Live Meeting will include VoIP capabilities,
increased video and audio features and better integration with
Microsoft Office.

But the unified communications push isn’t all software. Microsoft
also announced its Office Communications Server will combine with a
360-degree camera for Microsoft Office Roundtable.

Described as an
“immersive conferencing experience,” participants in conferences gain
a panoramic view of those attending the conference, along with close-up views of speakers.

Makers of peripheral devices, including USB handsets, wireless USB
headsets, webcams and PC monitors from Logitech, Motorola,
Plantronics, Samsung, GN Netcom and Tatung will also work with
Communicator 2007 software.

HP, Motorola and Siemens were also named as partner in the new
effort.

HP will provide hardware devices and systems integration.
Motorola will produce mobile devices based on Office Communicator
Server 2007 and Office Communicator Mobile.

Siemens will work to
connect telephony, e-mail and IM into a single communications platform.

In February, Microsoft unveiled its Office Communicator Mobile voice, video and telephony software at the
3GSM World Congress in Barcelona. The software was a key part of Microsoft’s
unified communications vision.

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