Microsoft Unveils Unified Communications Product Road Map and Partner Ecosystem
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Press release date: June 26, 2006
New 2007 Office system products to deliver enterprise communications solution that unifies voice, conferencing, IM and collaboration
SAN FRANCISCO, June 26 / -- Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, today unveiled the company's vision, technology road map and partner framework for unified communications at a strategy event in San Francisco. Microsoft Corp.'s approach to unified communications will break down today's silos of e-mail, instant messaging, mobile and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) telephony, and audio-, video- and webconferencing. Through software, Microsoft and its partners will put people at the center of communications through a single identity across all modes and integrate communication into people's everyday work processes, including the widely used Microsoft® Office system and third-party software applications.
"Unified communications will drive the next major advancement in individual, team and organizational productivity in today's 24x7, always-connected and increasingly mobile work environment," Raikes said. "We believe that through software, we can transform business communications (bringing down both its cost and complexity) by now integrating voice communications with the familiar and powerful communications and collaboration experiences provided by Microsoft."
In support of its vision, Microsoft today announced new and enhanced unified communications technologies that will be part of the Microsoft Office system 2007 wave of products. The company will bring together its popular 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. Built on a rich platform and supported by the extensive capabilities of its growing partner ecosystem, Microsoft's unified communications offerings will deliver seamless, comprehensive and integrated communications capabilities for businesses.
Raikes was joined onstage by Anoop Gupta, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Unified Communications Group, to demonstrate key capabilities of the new and updated servers, services and devices:
o Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, a robust, flexible, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standards-based real-time communication platform that enables presence-based VoIP call management; audio-, video- and webconferencing; and instant messaging communication within and across existing software applications, services and devices. o 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. o 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. o 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. o Microsoft Office RoundTable(TM), 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. o 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. o 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.
"To achieve the productivity revolution we believe is possible with unified communications, we need to provide deeper integration of communications modes within the processes we use every day," Gupta said. "Ensuring all modes of communications are people-centric and presence-based will help people find and connect to the right person the first time using the most effective communication modes. Software will be the key to delivering on this promise, resulting in a more powerful end-user experience, real productivity enhancements, and compelling business value for our customers and partners."
Building on its existing partner ecosystem, Microsoft also announced new business alliances with HP, Motorola and Siemens to deliver on its vision for unified communications. HP will provide hardware devices and systems integration services for new and enhanced products based on Microsoft's unified communications platform. Motorola will deliver mobile devices and network hardware based on Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator Mobile. Siemens will advance the transformation of telephony, audio-, video- and webconferencing, instant messaging and e-mail into a single unified communications platform.
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 2007.
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