What a week of communications announcements … and its only Wednesday !

I have been wanting to do a few postings this week so I thought I might save on the 0's and 1's and put it all into one post 🙂

The Electrics Wands experience of Microsoft Roundtable - Ewan Dalton sat in a room last week with a few of us in order to have a proper play with the Microsoft Roundtable device.  Take a look here for his view on Roundtable and for my excellent impression of "Brother Lee Love" from the Kenny Everett show ... for those of you that watched that :-).  Finally he has some links to the Roundtable user guide and quick reference card for those you that want to be a bit of reading 🙂

Users confidence in Skype drops - This week Skype had 'issues' as millions of users where unable to log into Skype and make calls.  It appears that initially the monthly cycle of Microsoft patches was to blame but they later reversed that suggestion.  I don't think we will be seeing any large organisations using Skype but it now makes me wonder if even small business can afford to lose their phone for a few days if this happens again.

Licensing Microsoft Audio Codecs - One of the key factors for any communications system becoming popular is to make sure that where possible it can interact with other technology in the network.  Yesterday we announced that we are licensing our RT Audio codec to some major hardware vendors like Intel,  Texas Instruments,  Polycom,  Audiocodes,  Dialogic and LG-Nortel.  This codec is already used in Windows Live Messenger and XBOX Live and has the advantage over other codecs that it is able to deal well with poor network conditions.  Over the coming months I expect to see more and more native integration of RT Audio into other telephony hardware,  ultimately leading to a better call experience for the end user over any network,  whether it has quality of service or not.

It's not QoS is QoE - Many of you will know that I like to talk about the Quality of Experience rather than the Quality of Service.  The reason for this,  as mentioned above,  is that OCS 2007 and the relating codecs can vary their bandwidth usage and therefore the quality of the call depending on the connection you have available.  At VoiceCon this week we announced the Quality of Experience Monitor which allows companies to actively monitor the audio and video quality on their network allowing IT managers to troubleshoot and voice/video issues on their network.

Cisco vs Microsoft - I get asked this question all the time and hopefully this announcement on Monday will answer a lot of those questions.  On Monday,  Steve Ballmer and John Chambers talk about how a combination of collaboration and respectful competition' between our two companies will result in a better experience for organisation looking to deploy a combination of our technologies. The alliance will work in four key areas

  • IT architecture. "Customers are asking Microsoft and Cisco to come together on their infrastructure visions . . . as manageability, performance, security and scalability become even more critical to success in the evolving service-oriented infrastructure."
  • Security. Because of the increased threats of viruses and hacks, "true security requires an architectural approach vs. a deployment of point solutions." Moreover, Cisco and Microsoft are working with storage giant EMC on the Secure Information Sharing Architecture, which allows government agencies to more effectively share confidential information across traditional boundaries.
  • Wireless and mobile. The companies are working to allow Cisco's Unified Communications Manager to interact with Windows Mobile-powered devices. "This will enable customers to enjoy integrated presence, telephony, calendaring and other unified communications capabilities."
  • Connected entertainment. Anticipating an Internet-driven revolution in home entertainment, the partnership will promote interoperability in areas like Internet Protocol TV.

My favourite quote so far is when Ballmer was questioned but a reporter and said Microsoft would not try to manipulate the alliance for a competitive advantage against Cisco. It's not a scenario, Ballmer said, of Microsoft executives anticipating a meeting in which "John's (Chambers) going to tell us everything he's doing so we can jujitsu him. That's not going to happen." Chambers later said the alliance would work because he trusts Microsoft.

As of Wednesday evening,  that all I have to share for the minute.  I hope this all brings you up to speed and expect to hear more in the run up to the OCS 2007  launch in the US on October 16th,  with the UK having its very own launch around the same time (and don't I know it !)   

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