Microsoft today reached a significant milestone in its enterprise voice strategy with the release of Office Communications Server 2007 to a private beta audience of 2,500 IT professionals. OCS 2007 will allow companies to integrate VoIP into existing telephony infrastructure, eliminating the need to “rip and replace” existing networks. This software-based approach will allow companies to save money and have more control over their migration to a full IP Telephony network.
As part of this milestone, Microsoft also announced that it is working with a network of partners including Avaya, Cisco, Mitel, NEC Phillips, Nortel Networks, Polycom and Siemens Communications to leverage the open SIP architecture of Office Communications Server to ensure interoperability with existing and future products. This means that companies worldwide will be able to support VoIP using their existing desktop phones, data networks, and TDM or IP-PBXs.
To accelerate testing and deployment, Microsoft is hosting a Technology Adoption Program (TAP) Summit in Redmond, Wash., this week to provide hands-on training and instruction for customers and partners.
Due for release in the April-June quarter of 2007, OCS 2007 will push the software giant into the business telephone market at a time when many large companies shift to cheaper telecommunications powered by VoIP) technology.
The new voice server will allow users to instantly call anyone from within Office applications by clicking on a person’s name and initiating a call. For example, a worker who receives an e-mail in Office Outlook from various colleagues can simply click on each colleague’s name to check their availability and place a person-to-person phone call or arrange a conference call.
Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has predicted that within 10 years all business communications will be Web-based, meaning hundreds of millions of people will change how they communicate.