Microsoft Includes VoIP in Office Communications Server

Microsoft revealed today that its upcoming Office Communications Server 2007 will house an IP telephony solution that it hopes will accelerate adoption and eliminate the expenses incurred through massive network overhauls that would ordinarily be necessary.

"The convergence of telecom and data networks is happening rapidly," Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of the Unified Communications Group at Microsoft, said in a press release. "Software will integrate these two worlds, enabling IT managers to deliver new communications possibilities that include VoIP."

Microsoft’s speech server is priced on a per-server basis as opposed to a per-port basis, which makes it economical for small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs).  This means that even if a new line is added, the cost doesn’t increase. "You just pay the one price for the server," says Bill Meisel, president of TMA Associates. "It depends on the application how (economical) it is, but in general for smaller applications, it’s more cost-effective than some of the other vendors." Additionally, because the solution is attached to its Office Communications Server, it is particularly convenient for use in UC applications.

Traditionally, Microsoft works with other companies without directly selling speech recognition applications for telephony. Consequently, it’s tempting to see this endorsement of speech technology by such a large company as a watershed. "Though IBM is also in this area, so you can’t say there aren’t other companies in it," says Meisel.  He adds that Microsoft isn’t promoting its speech servers as a separate product either.  

Still, it’s notable that Microsoft has made speech a key initiative for their Office Communications Server. In the long run, it’s an indication that they’ll be supporting speech increasingly. "It won’t have a huge impact in 2007," says Meisel, "but you’ll see an increasing impact in 2008."   

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