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Microsoft launches its Unified Communications Software to facilitate all forms of communication from the desktop, including VoIP and videoconferencing with Microsoft Office Communicator 2007

October 18, 2007 | Chris Payatagool


On Tuesday, Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp., and Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, announced the worldwide availability of Microsoft's unified communications software, taking the first step toward streamlining workplace communications and helping reduce the cost of the average corporate voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) system by half.

Bill Gates said at the launch: "In fact, this is a complete transformation of the business of the traditional PBX. The PBX in some ways is almost like the mainframe was many years ago where all of the functionality was there in that one piece. And the way that you had flexibility to add value, to customize, to bring in third parties to do new things, it just isn't there in that structure. And so by moving phone calls onto the Internet, using the powerful industry standard servers, we've got a very different way of being able to do things. And that can lead not only to lower cost, but far more effectiveness in how your employees work within your company, or with customers and partners outside your company."

"The performance of the computers in terms of doing things like taking and processing the video, or processing the audio, we now have the full capacity to do that. So hardware is not holding us back at all. In fact, you've seen the explosion of audio and video essentially being an essential part of experiencing the Internet."

Joined by customers and partners, the Microsoft executives launched Unified Communications and VoIP software that includes the following:

Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007. Software that delivers VoIP, video, instant messaging, conferencing and presence within the applications people already know and use such as Microsoft Office system applications and upcoming versions of Microsoft Dynamics™ ERP products and the Microsoft CRM release due later this year

* Microsoft Office Communicator 2007. Client software for phone, instant messaging and video communications that works across the PC, mobile phone and Web browser

* Microsoft Office Live Meeting. The next version of Microsoft's advanced conferencing service that enables workers to conduct meetings, share documents, utilize video and record discussions from virtually any computer

* Microsoft RoundTable. A conferencing phone with a 360-degree camera that captures a panoramic view of meeting participants, tracks the speaker and can record meetings

* Service pack update of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007. The industry's leading e-mail, voice mail, calendaring and unified messaging platform

"Unified communications software will transform business communications as fundamentally as e-mail did in the 1990s," Raikes said. "Today, Microsoft is in the VoIP game, and our customers and partners are already winning with better economics and new business opportunities."

Gates and Raikes were joined Tuesday by hundreds of customers ( reporting dramatic time savings due to more efficient communications and cost savings of 25 percent to 30 percent over traditional communications technologies. Gibson Guitar Corp., Global Crossing, L'Occitane, Quanta Computer USA Inc., Sanofi-Aventis, The Shaw Group Inc., Virgin Megastores and Volvo Group were among the customers that joined the event to discuss the positive impact of Microsoft technology on their business.

"We are deploying Office Communications Server 2007 globally, and already people are seeing substantial time savings and productivity gains," said Etienne de Verdelhan, chief information officer with L'Occitane, a leading global retailer of natural ingredient cosmetics with more than 900 stores in over 60 countries. "Not only are we able to launch new business communications with just one click, but user setup and administration is extremely simple, which is critical for a company growing at our rapid pace."

Supporting these findings, Forrester Consulting found in a study commissioned by Microsoft that organizations may achieve significant productivity improvements and cost savings with unified communications. The Forrester study,1 created from the results of 15 in-depth interviews of Microsoft unified communications customers, found that these customers can achieve more than 500 percent return on investment (ROI) over three years by deploying Office Communications Server 2007.

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