Currently (well until a “few minutes” ago) VOIP was the domain of CISCO and other networking companies, dozens of their outsourced phone system partners (such as M5 Networks) and VOIP providers such as Vonage, Skype and Packet 8.
You could use your existing network and your PC or a phone system over a dedicated T1 line.
Microsoft has played very little role in the VOIP business – until now.
On March 7, Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft Corp.’s Business Division said “Software is set to transform business phone systems as profoundly as it has transformed virtually every other form of workplace communication,” “Over time, the software-based VoIP technology built into Microsoft Office Communications Server and Microsoft Office Communicator will offer so much value and cost savings that it will make the standard telephone look like that old typewriter that’s gathering dust in the stockroom.”
What does this mean to you?
With Microsoft aggressively getting into the VOIP market (all software no hardware) it’s going to seamlessly blend VOIP into its applications. Currently, companies are already building VOIP software for Windows, however, now that Microsoft is in the game expect it to be tightly integrated into its own software. Of course the only way to get the advanced functionality and integration will be with its server software – Microsoft Office Communications Server and Microsoft Office Communicator
Microsoft’s press release continues:
Raikes illustrated the inefficiencies of the standard telephone by pointing to a Harris Interactive Service survey that found that two-thirds of business phone calls end in voice-mail messages. As a result, 25 percent of information workers spend the equivalent of three full work days each year playing phone tag and leaving voice-mail messages.
Raikes described Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator 2007 as the most important new communications technology since Microsoft Outlook 1997, an e-mail and personal information manager. He predicted the new products would change the way people contact each other by providing more efficient and effective communications:
— Streamlined communications. Click-to-call features make it possible to
call someone by simply clicking on the person’s name within other
Microsoft Office applications, such as Microsoft Office Outlook and
Microsoft Office SharePoint(R) Server.
— Advanced “presence.” The technology can quickly determine colleagues’
availability and the best way to contact them at work or while they’re
— More ways to meet. The technology can bring together people in multiple
locations for meetings via the most convenient communications method,
whether it’s a voice call, audio or video conference, or Web-based
— Tools that travel. Mobile workers can use their office phone number and
other corporate communications tools, including instant messaging and
audio- or videoconferencing, when working from home or on the road.
With lower-cost calling options and simple, secure access without a
virtual private network, remote and mobile workers can be more
productive with lower communications and support costs.
NOTE: Microsoft bought Tell Me