Microsoft To Push Unified Communications At Mobile Workforce First - InformationWeek

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10/16/2007
12:04 PM
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Microsoft To Push Unified Communications At Mobile Workforce First

Microsoft is urging businesses to combine voice, video, and data communications with its Office Communication Server and Exchange products as the base.

If your mid- to large-sized company relies on a mobile workforce being connected away from the office or in and around meeting rooms, expect a call from Microsoft soon about its unified communications products.

The company is gearing up to knock on the doors of current and new customers with a duffle bag full of unified voice, video, and data communications products. On Tuesday, Bill Gates and Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's business division, are introducing a suite of business communication products that includes Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, Office Communicator 2007, and Microsoft Live Meeting. The products mark Microsoft's latest foray into spaces currently occupied by Cisco Systems and Avaya.

The goal is to wholly convert or at least get customers thinking about connecting to each other using Microsoft's software as the common communication thread instead of ripping out and replacing conventional PBX phone systems.

"So much focus these days is on replicating on a TDM network," Eric Swift, Microsoft's senior director of product management for the Unified Communications group, said in a briefing. "I hear from customers all the time that they upgraded from PBX to IP telephony and all they get is the same functions including a phone dial tone."

And while Microsoft is promising to integrate PCs, servers, mobile phones, PDAs, and the like for everyone in a company, from the CEO to the rank and file, Swift said in an interview that Microsoft is going to target the mobile workforce first.

"Using a single in-box approach with a single identity, we help that worker who is not sitting at their desk all the time to forget having to turn on and off several devices or shifting back and forth between leaving e-mail on top of voice mail," he said.

Microsoft's endeavors are supported by 800 hardware and software partners, including Ericsson, Nortel, and SAP. Swift added that Microsoft's standard APIs and ecosystem even allow for collaboration with competitors such as Cisco and Avaya.

But to do that, Microsoft needs to educate IT decision makers, developers, and system integrators on how to implement, use, and evangelize its unified communication products. Microsoft is planning more than 100,000 customer meetings in 100 countries as part of this face-to-face outreach.

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