Thoughts on Unified Communications Launch Today


Today Bill Gates and Jeff Raikes (my boss) launched Office Communications Server 2007 (OCS), and announced that Exchange Server 2007 SP1 will be available in the 4th quarter of this year. Here is a long list of enhancements within SP1 – but given the occasion today with OCS, I figure it's worth digging into the "better together" story between Exchange 2007 and OCS a bit here.


Exchange 2007's advanced unified messaging capabilities are a viable replacement for your existing voice mail system today. It's been great to see so many customers realizing this benefit this year. The Tracy Unified School District in northern California went from a traditional voice mail system to Exchange Unified Messaging for e-mail and voice mail.  This move initially saved them $168,000 in licensing costs and will continue to save them $126,000 annually in maintenance, support, and licensing.


OCS can be added to these Exchange 2007 deployments to offer a "unified communications" experience, integrating presence, IM, email, voice, and video. For example, OCS lights up Outlook with rich presence and click-to-communicate features, and pulls from your Outlook calendar to inform your presence status.


With Exchange 2007 SP1, you can now retrieve voice mail messages from Communicator 2007 (the preferred client for OCS) with a single click. Also, certain OCS- and Communicator-qualified devices will be able to work with Exchange 2007 for additional functionality, like a new "message waiting" indicator that lets you know when you have a voice mail.


To me, this kind of integration highlights why our software-centric approach to Unified Communications is so compelling. Gartner would seem to agree. Check it out.


Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications, 2007 (Gartner, August 20, 2007): This Gartner Magic Quadrant by Bern Elliot evaluates leading vendors in the unified communications market. Gartner positions Microsoft in the Leaders quadrant. According to Gartner, "The Leaders quadrant contains vendors selling comprehensive and integrated UC solutions that directly, or with well-defined partnerships, address the full range of market needs."


SP1 will be available very soon, and as always, I look forward to your feedback.


- Terry (terry.myerson AT microsoft DOT com)
General Manager, Microsoft Exchange
























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Comments (10)
  1. lee says:

    Erm, aren’t we in the 4th Quarter?

    Also you say that "below is a long list of enhancements within SP1" yet there isn’t a link/doc…

    That isn’t a complaint we’re just chomping at the bit…

    Lee

  2. bday says:

    We’re barely 2 weeks into the 4th quarter, don’t complain until 1/1/2008. :)

    I’m looking forward to playing with this in our lab. Our migration to E2K7 is lined up (hopefully) for some time next year, so this may be perfect timing to get OCS into the mix as well.

    Thanks guys!

  3. Mike Crowley says:

    bday, its easy to tell others to be patient when you arent yet running the product in production.  Microsoft left out a lot of functionality in exchange 2007 and has re-included it in sp1.  we are all just in a hurry to get back this functionality we lost.  if i had a choice, i wouldnt deploy until sp1 is released

  4. BK says:

    Hi Mike –

    Would you care to share some of lost functionalities in Exchange 2007?  Thanks.

  5. None says:

    BK-

    One of the missing functionality in the RTM Exchange 2007 version is the ability to digitally sign and encrypt messages in Outlook Web Access.  This was available in Exchange 2003, will be available again in Exchange 2007 SP1, but was not included in RTM Exchange 2007.  In the DoD community the lack of digital signing / encryption through OWA is a show-stopper.

  6. bday says:

    MCrowley, one of the reasons we aren’t in production with 2007 is due to the lack of "completeness" RTM truly was and the many features 2003 had that 2007 then either didn’t have or made it far harder to administer. So, yes… it can be easy to say to be patient when I didn’t jump onto the bleeding edge and then regret it in some ways.

  7. Adrian Boyd says:

    Hi Guys, One function we are missing in 2007 is the ability to create a connector that will queue large mails for deliver after hours like we could do with E2k3. We had a call logged with MS and they said this feature is no longer available. Anyone know if its likely to be included with SP1?

  8. mike says:

    Lost functionality…

    1)  When e-mailing a "Mail Contact".  Having Outlook configured to send mail in HTML.  The recipient receives the message in plain text.  If I delete the Mail Contact and send directly to the e-mail address, I do see bold, colors, italics,etc.  (The Mail Contact is not forced to send in plain text)

    2) Public folders through OWA

    3) Any public folder maintenance through the GUI.

    4) A very small percentage of mailboxes get a "Cannot start Microsoft Office Outlook.  Unable to open the Outlook window.  The set of folders could not be opened." message when opening Outlook.  This problem follows the mailbox when configured on different hardware/outlook versions.  If the mailbox is moved back to E2k3, everything works again. (OWA does work properly on either server)

  9. tim.doerr says:

    I have OCS 2007 and Exchange 2007 up and cant wait for SP1 so i can tie them together. Hate i missed the launch watched it via playback later that day. We use OCS 2007 daily and once the Exchange sp1 comes out its going to just adding another reason to remove our current 3 party um system

  10. Jim Burton says:

    For those interested, here’s a great list of API’s I found for Office Communications Server 2007:

    http://blogs.msdn.com/jcalev/archive/2007/08/21/an-overview-of-the-apis-in-office-communications-server-2007.aspx

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