Microsoft in VOIP

By Ellen Muraskin  |  Posted 2004-10-06 Print this article Print

Jainschigg said he further sees a future in which firewall functions will be taken over by application-level authorization and encryption. Microsoft will host your enterprise telephony, he says, just the way it hosts MSN Messenger now—from your home or from the airport lounge—with an authorized password. Id say were a long way from introducing Microsoft into the same VOIP ranks as Cisco, Avaya, Nortel, Siemens, Mitel and Alcatel.
I dont think IT or telecom managers will replace their CPE PBXes with a Microsoft box, not after all of Windows historical vulnerabilities. Indeed, theres already a somewhat sorry history of open-systems telephony servers/PBXes on Windows NT, which tended to crash. These have been made more resilient on Windows 2000.
Theres also a counter-movement to move the IP PBX to Linux, for both vulnerability and pricing issues. The SIP startup vendors Snom and Asterisk have done this, and Cisco is readying a Linux version of its Call Manager PBX, too. Cisco is also, perhaps not incidentally, acquiring its own presence technology in its recent purchase of Dynamicsoft, one of the biggest names in SIP. All in all, I do expect LCS to act as an IP voice softswitch, but I dont expect LCS to compete with the CPE PBX vendors anytime soon. The service-provider scenario is more tempting, especially among small businesses closer to the consumer scale. Or, like Siemens, might LCS go into the enterprise as a PBX adjunct, to link up dispersed workers via buddy list and gateway with those tethered to the existing PBX? To inform everyone of each others availability? To eventually run the collaboration app, as well, from Live Meeting? In May, we learned at that LCS Windows Messenger client would tunnel into an enterprise network using SIP over firewall port 5061, and support full encryption and authentication. Will this apply to voice? Will Microsoft take on a true VOIP service, with gateways out to the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network)? Would Microsoft take on the whole billing and customer-care burden, or partner with other providers? Is Microsoft really going to start selling a VOIP phone, or will it stick with a soft client? The leaked, unconfirmed news, although it sounds more than credible, launches many questions that we may have to wait until VON–or later–to hear answered. Check out eWEEK.coms VOIP & Telephony Center at for the latest news, views and analysis on voice over IP and telephony.

Ellen Muraskin is editor of's VOIP & Telephony Center. She has worked on the editorial staff at Computer Telephony, since renamed Communications Convergence, including three years as executive editor. Muraskin's work has also appeared in Popular Science magazine and other publications.

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