Microsoft ramps up unified communications push

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Microsoft ramps up unified communications push

Enhanced messaging support adds extra presence and chat.

Microsoft is making a concerted push into unified communications with the launch of two additions to Office Communications Server (OCS).

The OCS 2007 XMPP Gateway will allow users to add basic presence sharing, and support for the Cisco Jabber and Google Talk instant messaging platforms.

A change to the public instant messaging (IM) connectivity licence requirements for OCS to Windows Live and AOL instant messenger networks, meanwhile, will allow users with OCS 2007 R2 Standard CAL (or equivalent Software Assurance rights) to tap into the platforms without the need for additional licences.

"People should not have to log into multiple IM networks and manage several different contact lists to reach the people they need to work with, and vice versa," said Eric Swift, general manager of the Microsoft Unified Communications Group.

"Providing a single identity allows OCS users to see their colleagues' availability and make contact with these other communities, which is an essential requirement for business."

Swift claimed that the move helps further Microsoft's plan to develop OCS into a full unified communications platform combining email, calendaring, voice mail, IM, VoIP and conferencing.

Microsoft has also been working on expanding support for its Exchange ActiveSync IP licensing programme, and has been collaborating with HP to incorporate interoperability with its Halo Telepresence system.

Microsoft is working with a host of other firms, including Polycom, Cisco and IBM, to help ensure interoperability and support for whichever communication platforms a customer uses.

"I am excited about the progress we are making in presence interoperability with PBX systems and other server-based applications," concluded Swift.

"Customers tell us they want an easy way to show the presence, or real-time availability status, of all users, including those who use traditional phones for voice calls.

"If someone is on a call, their presence information should show that. However, across the industry today, we do not have a simple way to get this information from the PBX."

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