Microsoft to Take Wraps Off Unified Messaging Strategy

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 06-26-2006
Microsoft is set to unveil a plan to integrate voice technologies with the communications and collaboration experiences the Redmond, Wash., software maker already provides.

The new plan is part of Microsoft's latest vision for unified communications and will be unveiled by Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, at an event in San Francisco June 26.

Earlier this year, Microsoft's Exchange and Real-Time Collaboration groups were merged into a single unit known as the Unified Communications Group. Click here to read more.

Microsoft will also announce new and enhanced unified communications technologies as part of the Microsoft Office 2007 system.

The company plans to bring together its Exchange Server corporate e-mail offering and Office Outlook and Speech Server, along with updated versions of its real-time collaboration technologies and a set of new communications devices, to form a cohesive unified communications solution.

Unified messaging in Exchange Server 2007, expected to ship in late 2006 or early 2007, will deliver a unified in-box experience that includes e-mail, voice mail and faxing functionality, as well as new capabilities such as speech-based auto attendant allowing users to access their communications from any phone. (Click here to read an interview with Raikes on the company's approach to the emerging market for real-time business communications.)

For its part, Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 is an SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) standards-based real-time communication platform that enables presence-based VOIP (voice over IP) call management; audio, video and Web conferencing; and instant messaging communication within and across existing software applications, services and devices, and is expected to ship in late 2006.

That product works in tandem with Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 to deliver a presence-based, enterprise VOIP "soft phone"; secure, enterprise-grade instant messaging that allows for intercompany federation and connectivity to public instant messaging networks such as MSN, AOL and Yahoo; one-to-one and multiparty video and audio conferencing; and Web conferencing. The product will be available for the desktop, browser and Windows Mobile.

Microsoft has announced 34 Office suites, programs, servers, services and tools—13 of which are new—that form part of its 2007 Microsoft Office family of products. Click here to read more.

In addition, Microsoft Office Communicator phone software for running an innovative set of new voice and video devices is designed to run on dedicated communications devices in tandem with Office Communications Server 2007 to extend and enhance the Microsoft unified communications experience. It is slated to ship in the second quarter of 2007.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Microsoft to Take Wraps Off Unified Messaging Strategy