We have been tight lipped about R2 for some time now and it has been hard as we have been wanting to share all the R2 goodness coming in a few months. Finally, at VoiceCon today, we let the cat out of the bag.
Here is a highlight of some of the features coming in OCS 2007 Release 2 (Note: the screen shots I added here are beta and are subject to change):
•Dial-in audioconferencing. Office Communications Server 2007 R2 enables businesses to eliminate costly audioconferencing services with an on-premise audioconferencing bridge that is managed by IT as part of the overall communications infrastructure.
Internally at MS, the plan is to switch to OCS for our primary audio conferencing bridge with an estimated savings of over $4 million dollars per year.
•Desktop sharing. This feature enables users to seamlessly share their desktop, initiate audio communications and collaborate with others outside the organization on PC, Macintosh or Linux platforms through a Web-based interface.
This is accessed via Communicator Web Access where you hit this with your IE, Safari,or Firefox browser across platforms.
•Persistent group chat. This enables geographically dispersed teams to collaborate with each other by participating in topic-based discussions that persist over time. This application provides users with a list of all available chat rooms and topics, periodically archives discussions in an XML file format that meets compliance regulations, provides tools to search the entire history of discussion on a given topic, and offers filters and alerts to notify someone of new posts or topics on a particular topic.
This comes from our Parlano acquisition and has already gained a lot of interest in the schools I have demoed this to. I setup various chat channels such as the Engineering Channel, the Economics Channel, IT support channel, the sky is the limit with what you could do with your school here.
Enhanced Voice and Mobility
•Attendant console and delegation. This allows receptionists, team secretaries and others to manage calls and conferences on behalf of other users, set up workflows to route calls, and manage higher volumes of incoming communications through a software-based interface.
This replaces the Communicator Client for a receptionist, administrative assistant they can perform blind transfers, consultative transfers, import their bosses contacts, pre-stage recurring audio meetings, etc.
•Session Initiation Protocol trunking. This feature enables businesses to reduce costs by setting up a direct VoIP connection between an Internet telephony service provider and Office Communicator 2007 without requiring on-premise gateways.
I can see a lot of interest here since you can save quite a bit by using Direct SIP vs. using on-premise hardware such as a Session Border Controller. We are working as part of the SIPConnect working group to ensure there is fully interoperability with OCS.
•Response group.A workflow design application manages incoming calls based on user-configured rules (e.g., round-robin, longest idle, simultaneous), providing a simple-to-use basic engine for call treatment, routing and queuing.
This can be used for simple call group queuing/routing such as a departmental IT group it also has hold music, autoattendant speech recognition such as “Say ‘Printers’ for Printer support” and the recipient will receive an inbound call with a contextual reference such as “Printer help”.
•Mobility and single-number reach. This extends Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile functionality to Nokia S40, Motorola RAZR, Blackberry and Windows Mobile platforms, allowing users to communicate using presence, IM and voice as an extension of their PBX from a unified client.
New Developer Tools for Business Applications
•APIs and Visual Studio integration. This improves the efficiency of everyday business processes by enabling businesses to build communications-enabled applications and embed communications into business applications.
You can setup UC call flows with Visual studio 2008 and leverage an SDK for Speech server.
The worldwide launch of OCS 2007 R2 is February 3rd and you can sign up for the launch here:
There will be plenty more R2 information coming from the product team as well as in our blog around things like moving to R2 from RTM OCS, the new 64-bit requirement, etc. Stay tuned!