MS Unified Communications Server and Client to Get Public Betas

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2007-03-07 Print this article Print

The software giant is also making the interoperability specifications for Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator 2007 available to its partners.

Microsoft will distribute the public beta of its voice over IP and unified communications server, Office Communications Server 2007, and its unified communications client, Office Communicator 2007, to millions of testers later this month.

Microsoft is also, for the first time, making the interoperability specifications for both products available to partners.
The move should help partners deliver a unified experience with SIP interoperability between these Microsoft products and their PBX, which should help customers avoid the costs of ripping and replacing their existing telephony system.
Jeff Raikes, the president of Microsofts Business Division, will announce these moves in his keynote address at VoiceCon Spring 2007 in Orlando, Fla., on March 7. Raikes plans to use his keynote to underscore how Microsoft feels these moves are similar to the software transformation from the mainframe to the PC, and how Microsoft views these upcoming products as the most important new communications technologies since the release of Microsoft Outlook 1997, its e-mail and personal information manager, a Microsoft spokesperson told eWEEK ahead of the keynote. To read more about the VOIP alliance between Microsoft and Nortel, click here. "These public betas will start at the end of the month and are open to everyone, while the products will be released to manufacturing by the end of June," the spokesperson said. Customers can register for the public beta version of Office Communications Server and Communicator 2007 here. Microsoft made Office Communications Server 2007 available to 2,500 companies under a private beta program last December. This server is the successor to Microsoft Live Communications Server 2005, and forms part of Microsofts unified communications portfolio. Click here to read more about Microsofts unified communications vision, strategy and roadmap. Raikes will also use his keynote address to predict that in just three years the average VOIP solution for businesses will cost half what it does today, as VOIP systems move from hardware to software. He also expects that 100 million people—twice the number of current business VOIP users—will have the ability to make phone calls from Microsoft Office applications in the same time frame, the Microsoft spokesperson said. Raikes plans to tell attendees that, over time, the standard telephone will look like an old typewriter gathering dust in the stockroom as "the software-based VOIP technology built into Microsoft Office Communications Server and Microsoft Office Communicator will offer cost savings and so much value." He also plans to describe how inefficient the standard telephone is by pointing to a Harris Interactive Service survey which found that two-thirds of business phone calls result in voice mail messages, meaning that some 25 percent of information workers spend the equivalent of three full work days each year playing phone tag and leaving messages. Read more here about how vendors have addressed remote communications. Raikes also plans to point to the high cost of branded IP handsets—typically 40 percent to 45 percent of the cost of telephony installation—and how they remain a primary obstacle to corporate adoption of IP telephony. As such, Raikes will use his keynote to stress how Office Communications Server brings a new approach to traditional telephony and will, at least in the long term, held reduce customer costs. To read more about the unified communications features found in Exchange 2007, click here. He also plans to talk about how Microsoft believes that companies will also be able to get more value from their existing PBX systems, networks and desk phones by using Office Communications Server to add VOIP and unified communications capabilities without ripping and replacing existing investments. Another point Raikes is likely to touch on in his keynote is how these new products will change the way people contact each other because they provide more efficient communications such as the click-to-call features that make it possible to call someone by simply clicking on the persons name within other Microsoft Office applications like Outlook and SharePoint Server. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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