Microsoft Corp. last week launched its first VOIP support in its Windows CE .Net embedded real-time operating system, allowing developers to create Visual Basic applications that can run on a Windows CE voice-over-IP phone.
Windows CE .Net 4.2, due by July, focuses on support for VOIP devices with three main components: a Telephony User Interface with a suite of voice applications, including a dialer that provides speed dial, call transfer, hang up and other call control functions; a VOIP Application Interface Layer that supports SIP (Session Initiation Protocol); and "enterprise integration technologies to allow enterprises to deploy managed VOIP phones or devices," according to Scott Horn, director of the embedded and appliance platforms group at Microsoft, in Redmond, Wash.
The technologies also provide support for Microsofts Active Directory to allow VOIP phones to be cataloged as part of a corporate address book, as well as support for Microsofts Systems Management Server to allow new images to be deployed to the phones from a central management station.
Microsoft also included support for the Kerberos and Wi-Fi security protocols.
Lining up behind the VOIP news were a handful of OEMs that are developing VOIP devices that will use the Windows CE VOIP capabilities, including BCM Computers Co. Ltd., Casio Computer Co. Ltd., Hitachi Ltd., NEC Infrontia Corp., Samsung Electronics Inc., Tatung Co. and Symbol Technologies Inc., which is adding voice capabilities to its handheld scanners to allow them to also operate as walkie-talkies over a secure Wi-Fi connection. The first products to market are expected in the second half of this year.
"Instead of each vendor doing their own SIP implementation, Microsoft provides that industry-standard consistency," said Vijay Bhagavath, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, Mass. "There will be a lot more opportunity for interoperability. Beyond IP telephony, the next step [with VOIP] is communication business application integration, so that when someone calls, you get the equivalent of a call center experience at your desktop. With access to business-critical information at your fingertips, you can make more instant business decisions."