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Microsoft Unveils VoIP Solution as Part of Desktop Communications
Posted: 12-Dec-2006 [Source: Microsoft]

[New Office Communications Server 2007 allows companies to integrate VoIP technology into existing telephony infrastructure and makes launching phone calls possible from 2007 Microsoft applications.]

Redmond -- Microsoft Corp. today opened a private beta of its new enterprise voice communications server, Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, to 2,500 IT professionals. Office Communications Server 2007 allows companies to integrate voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology into existing telephony infrastructure, eliminating the need for expensive network overhauls and also extending the useful life of existing investments. The new voice server will also allow workers to instantly launch a phone call from 2007 Microsoft Office applications, such as Office Word 2007, Office Outlook 2007 or Office Communicator, by simply clicking on a colleague's name to determine his or her availability and initiate a person-to-person or multiparty call.

With native support for Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft Office Communicator, part of the 2007 Microsoft Office system, interoperate with products from industry partners including Nortel Networks, Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., LG-Nortel Co. Ltd., Mitel Networks Corp., NEC Philips Unified Solutions, Polycom Inc. and Siemens Communications Inc. Through these relationships, customers worldwide will be able to support VoIP using their existing desktop phones, data networks and time division multiplexing (TDM) or Internet protocol (IP) private branch exchanges (PBXs). Customers will also able to leverage the softphone capabilities of Office Communicator to make and receive phone calls from their PCs, eliminating the need to purchase expensive IP-compatible phones.

"The convergence of telecom and data networks is happening rapidly. Software will integrate these two worlds, enabling IT managers to deliver new communications possibilities that include VoIP," said Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of the Unified Communications Group at Microsoft. "With this open architecture and broad interoperability, Office Communications Server 2007 will give IT managers the flexibility to determine when and how and in what way they move their communications infrastructure forward."

Microsoft is bringing the pace of software innovation to communications to deliver a people-centric experience. According to a recent Gartner Inc. report, "The ultimate driver of VoIP is not merely cost savings, but is in business process integration. Enterprises should evaluate their long-term strategy toward developing IP telephony applications beyond basic telephony, including business application integration."(1)

In conjunction with opening the private beta, Microsoft is hosting a Technology Adoption Program (TAP) Summit this week. Approximately 250 representatives from nearly 100 enterprises will participate in the weeklong event. Attendees represent enterprise IT departments that serve more than 7 million information workers worldwide. The event will kick off with a keynote address by Microsoft Corporate Vice President Gurdeep Singh Pall and includes a showcase of partner solutions, including a demonstration of Innovative Communications Alliance (ICA) scenarios incorporating Microsoft unified communications software and the Nortel Communications Server 1000 IP-PBX.

Office Communications Server 2007, the successor to Microsoft Live Communications Server 2005, is part of Microsoft's unified communications portfolio. Companies using Office Communications Server 2007 can deploy enterprisewide presence; enable security-enhanced enterprise instant messaging; host on-premise audio, video and Web conferences; and deploy VoIP capabilities. Some of the capabilities available in the private beta of Office Communications Server 2007 are placing and receiving voice calls; advanced call routing; streamlined integration with the new unified messaging capabilities in Exchange Server 2007; multiparty conferencing; call holding, forwarding and transferring; and compliance capabilities, all while working in concert with existing telephony infrastructure.

Office Communications Server 2007 can be deployed with Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, a cornerstone of Microsoft's unified communications portfolio. Exchange Server 2007 complements the voice capabilities of Office Communications Server 2007 with a built-in auto-attendant for answering and routing inbound voice calls as well as unified messaging that unifies voice mail and e-mail in a single inbox. Exchange Server is available for evaluation at http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/eval.

(1) Gartner, "How to Select the Right Approach to VoIP: Nine VoIP Scenarios," September 2006.

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