Microsoft Announces Office Communications Server 14

Microsoft recently unveiled plans around its Communications Server "14" at VoiceCon. Details were restricted to the next-generation Office Communicator client. Key new features include:

  • Location: ability to auto-detect or populate your location based on WiFi/subnet information, etc.
  • Skill search: ability to find contacts based on a user's skills, projects, or interests. This information is pulled from their SharePoint profile (which has to be manually populated one time), which OCS grabs via Web services.

A number of other enhancements to the client focus on usability. Social networking capabilities are also added, as would seem to be the case with all of Microsoft's client applications these days.

The Microsoft announcement was accompanied by a flurry of third-party announcements. Most notable was Polycom's announcement of three new phones:

  • CX500 IP Phone -- optimized for use in public areas like coffee shops and airports
  • CX600 IP Desktop Phone -- a midrange desktop phone
  • CX300 IP Conference Phone -- a conference unit that integrates with OCS 14

With Microsoft's ongoing battle with Cisco and IBM for the Unified Communications marketplace, we view OCS 14 primarily as an attempt to level the playing ground. Microsoft's entry into the Unified Communications space is still comparatively young, and Microsoft has needed to mature features and performance to compete effectively. It would appear that OCS 14 plays a key role in achieving feature parity for Microsoft.

David Sengupta

In addition to his role as Ferris analyst, David is Chief Architect for Quest Software, and has been a Microsoft Exchange MVP since 1998.

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