Yesterday in a VoiceCon keynote discussion, Gurdeep Singh Pall, Microsoft VP of Communications, began his discussion with some interesting statistics, including:
- 1/6 of U.S. households have ditched land lines
- Cell phone users text 1.7 times more than they make a call
- Teens (millennials) text 10 times more than they make a cell phone call
After a discussion on the changing world of telecommunications, he announced the next generation of Microsoft’s Office Communications Server, now referred to as Microsoft Communications Server “14”. This keynote reminded me of Cisco’s keynote on Tuesday, demoing a new interface focused on Unified Communications (UC). It appears these products may compete for businesses who want a heavy-duty user interface that integrates presence, chat, call, email, employee data, file sharing, voicemail, and video conference. Whereas Cisco’s product looks much like Twitter and LinkedIN, this MS Communication Server 14 appears to be a lot more like a chat client – e.g. Skype. Pall called it “the next generation of the unified communications solution” and mentions it works with MS Sharepoint, Exchange, and Office.
“We are going to play our humble role in the software platform,” said Pall. He continued to mention that this software will work for businesses leveraging VoIP, from those maintaining PBX equipment to those using a hosted solution. Likewise, Pall’s presentation focused more on the interface details and less on how a company might actually go about setting up their telecom service in conjunction with MS Communications Server 14. MS Communication Server 14 has some familiar features we’re using in My.OnSIP - such as the ability to click to call, login to your business phone in multiple locations, check your voicemail from the interface, view coworkers’ presence, and assign E911 setting per location.
And, there are some innovative features such as the communicator’s integration with SharePoint data (expertise search) and Microsoft Exchange, awareness of available bandwidth and session information for video scaling, and transcribed voicemail in 6 possible languages. This is another inventive UC business software solution, expected to be released in the second half of 2010. I anticipate based on the feature set (e.g. integration with Sharepoint), it’ll be sold to larger-scale companies. Pall also acknowledged the "ecosystem of thousands of partners delivering solutions for Microsoft’s unified communications software, including applications, voice services, session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking, and interoperable private branch exchanges (PBXs) and gateways," says a Microsoft press release. As we have been with Microsoft Response Point, we look forward to continuing to be a partner.