Microsoft and Cisco Move Phone Tag Out of the Office

In my earlier post about AT&T I commented that there was so much competition from VOIP providers the “anti-AT&T” merger crowd might not have so much to fear. Here’s an example in today’s news. Microsoft and Cisco are joining together to bring “presence” to the PC desktop integrated with telecommunications.
While what Microsoft and Cisco are doing is NOT new, there’s many other companies providing similar services, the fact that Microsoft and Cisco, two HUGE companies in this space are doing it, does mean something.
Mercury News writes Microsoft is teaming with Cisco Systems to provide a new service that allows workers to see when their colleagues are available and manage phone calls from their computer screens.
Workers will be able to route incoming phone calls through the Internet and receive them within Microsoft Office, as part of Microsoft’s collaboration with Cisco. To take advantage of the features, a business must use Microsoft Office 2003, Microsoft’s Live Communications Server, Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 and Cisco’s Unified CallManager server.
The move comes as more businesses are updating their phone systems for Internet Protocol, a way to transmit calls over the same data networks used for e-mail, instant-messaging, video conferencing and other applications. According to a report from the In-Stat market research group, worldwide shipments of Internet Protocol-based private phone systems exceeded shipments of traditional equipment for the first time last year.