Mixed News for Microsoft in the Unified Communications Stakes

Ann All

There's good news, and not-so-good news, for Microsoft in a recent Info-Tech report http://www.prweb.com/releases/2007/08/prweb546793.htmabout companies' strategies for implementing the software giant's VoIP products.


As we've blogged previously, while VoIP has been positioned as an especially hot opportunity for vendors trying to win SMB business, not many of them appear to be doing an effective job of capitalizing on it.


That seems to include Microsoft, judging from Info-Tech's report.


Microsoft has been formulating a VoIP-heavy unified communications strategy for some time now, culminating in its recent release of Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator 2007 for public beta, as well as news that Office Communications Server is hitting production lines. The release date is still vague, though it will be "sometime this autumn," according to ZDNet UK.


The good news for Microsoft, according to the Info-Tech research, is that its brand name and existing deployments seem to be winning it some love among both SMBs and larger enterprises.


Forty-six percent of respondents say they are "very likely" or "extremely likely" to implement Microsoft's voice-related systems. That number shot up to 94 percent for companies that identified MS as their primary unified communications vendor.


Yet between 30 percent and 40 percent of respondents were unaware that Microsoft's roadmap includes a software-based VoIP system that will be far less expensive than current IP PBXs.


Nearly a quarter of the respondents not only are aware of the system but indicate plans to implement it -- though not unless there is a strong reason to migrate from Live Communications Server (LCS) or Office Communications Server (OCS).


This puts pressure on Microsoft to deliver a product that offers high availability and a 50 percent lower cost than IP-PBXs integrated with those products, says an Info-Tech analyst. Otherwise, companies may opt to stick with one of the many vendors with products that offer this type of integration.


Microsoft faces formidable competition, from the likes of Cisco and a Nortel-IBM partnership, announced last month, that will produce unified communications products aimed at SMBs.

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