Monday, June 26, 2006

Microsoft details unified communications road map

ComputerWorld wrties that Microsoft(MSFT) announced a "unified communications product road map, demonstrating voice, video and messaging capabilities that it expects to ship in the first half of next year." According to the article, Microsoft announced for the second quarter of 2007:

  • Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, which is Microsoft's new name for its Live Communications Server. It will include voice-over-IP call management, as well as audio-, video- and webconferencing and instant messaging communication with and across software applications and devices.
  • Office Communicator 2007, a unified communications client that works with Communications Server 2007 to provide enterprise VoIP through a softphone.
  • Office Live Meeting, which includes audio and video capabilities for conferencing from a PC and is due out at about the same time.
The article said "Microsoft's unified communications strategy involves partnerships with other communications vendors and includes plans for IP desktop phones that run Communicator software. The vendors named were Polycom Inc., LG-Nortel Co. Ltd. and Thomson Telecom. Microsoft also announced interoperability with or partnerships with Hewlett-Packard, (HPQ) Siemens (SI) and Motorola (MOT)."

Zeus Kerravala at Yankee Group thought "the main question about the company's unified communications products is whether they will be ready for corporate use when released." He said,
"Buyer beware. When has Microsoft ever entered a market with a business-ready product out the door? They eventually get it right, but the first versions are usually not corporate-ready. Think back to the Microsoft proxy server, their firewall, Exchange and directory services."

Kerravala believed Microsoft's plans show it could become "a huge threat to all the VoIP competitors. Within a few years, Microsoft could join Avaya Inc. and Cisco Systems (CSCO) in owning about 90% of the VoIP marketplace."

Ken Dulaney at Gartner opined that "Microsoft's strategy will not be fulfilled for five to seven years, but it makes sense because it relies on its installed based of Exchange and Active Directory users, as well as its presence servers. Dulaney said,"IT managers are much more into evolution than revolution these days, so this announcement fundamentally makes some sense."