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.
General Manager, Microsoft Exchange