I said last week that Jeff Raikes was going to make an announcement, he has. It starts:
"Within three years, more than 100 million people will be able to make phone calls from Microsoft Outlook, SharePoint, and other Microsoft Office Systems applications; and customers will be able to gain this value with VoIP solutions that are half the cost of what they are today."
100,000,000 in 3 years - we're not messing about here !. When I was working full time on Live Communications Server I said that the take up of instant messaging compared with the take up of mail is like comparing the take up of DVD players with Video recorders. What we're talking about is:
- Office Live Communications Server 2005 is superceded by Office Communications Server 2007; "Live" is being used for hosted "Off-Premise" services. OCS will support on-premise Voice, Video and Data conferencing.
- The current Live Meeting Console will superceded with one which supports on-premise conferences and the next generation of the Hosted Live Meeting from a single program. The new console will support the Round Table device.
- A new version of Office Communicator will support richer presence and better transitions between modes of communication -e.g. Seamless switching from peer-to-peer 2 party conferences to multi-party conferences.
- New voice Scenarios. Today communicator can act as a soft-phone and can also send commands to a PBX to control a "classic" desk phone. We're expanding this with Communicator Phones. It looks like a phone, but it has communicator running on it. You call someone by name and see their presence before making the call - so less voice mail.
This last one is the biggy I've written before about the way desk phones have become an anachronism. Anywhere I see a name on my PC I want to see presence, where I see presence I want to be able to chose a communication method, and my PC should start a phone call as easily as an e-mail provided that numbers are written properly The network already holds my contacts, and provides the presence service. With Exchange 2007, taking and storing voice messages has become another network solution - and I've also written about why this is so much better than traditional Voice mail. Management of voice calls is just another service - but today's VOIP solutions are expensive yet no more functional than the systems the replace. . OCS 2007 will address both points. As Raikes puts it, "We get out today's communications potholes, telephone tag, voicemail jail, or looking up and then dialing a colleague's office number, cell number, home number, only to leave a message." Bring it on.
Watch Jeff Raikes Web cast
(.wmv file, 4 min., 22 sec)