Microsoft shares more details on its next version of its PBX alternative, OCS 14

Summary:Microsoft still isn't releasing new code or a public beta of its next version of Office Communications Server, known as OCS 14, this week at its TechEd conference. But officials are sharing a few more bits of information on features.

Microsoft still isn't releasing new code or a public beta of its next version of Office Communications Server, known as OCS 14, this week at its TechEd conference. But officials are sharing a few more bits of information on features.

OCS -- Microsoft's all-in-one instant messaging/VOIP/conferencing product expected to be christened OCS 2010 (or maybe 2011 if it ships late this year) -- is still on track to ship before the end of calendar 2010, company officials confirmed at TechEd this week. The product is currently in private testing among selected Technology Adoption Partners (TAPs). Microsoft is touting OCS 14 as its first "enterprise voice" ready version of OCS (despite the fact that several of its partners already say they are providing enterprise voice hosting via OCS 2007.

At TechEd this week, Microsoft officials said Live Meeting, Microsoft's audio/video conferencing product, is being rolled into Communicator 14, the client for OCS. There also will be a Silverlight-based Web client for OCS 14 for those who don't have Communicator installed, as noted on the independent "Inside OCS" blog.

The OCS team still isn't disclosing a timetable for when it will make available in the cloud OCS 14 functionality. I've heard this won't happen until 2011, and that it will be phased in first for dedicated (i.e., private cloud) customers, and later for standard (public cloud) ones. Microsoft offers Office Communications as a standalone Microsoft-hosted product and also sells it as part of its Business Productivity Online (BPOS) suite.  OCS officials also declined to provide any new details on their mobile strategy and how/when/if there will be a dedicated OCS client for Windows Phone 7 devices.

The team did say that OCS 14 will be able to federate with Windows Live Messenger Wave 4, in terms of both audio and video, officials said this week. (Microsoft still isn't sharing whether the product will federate with other instant-messaging products from third-party vendors, but it's sounding unlikely that it will federate completely audio/video-wise with anything but Live Messenger.)

The Inside OCS blog lists a few more features that the Softies are sharing about OCS 14 this week, including how it will support virtualization for various server roles.

The Redmondians said this week that 74,000 Microsoft users currently run OCS and are no longer connected to a PBX system.

Last fall, Microsoft offered selected partners and customers a roadmap covering its future OCS rollout plans. While some of these details and dates may now have gone by the wayside, here are a few more details as to what the Softies were promising around OCS 14 as of November 2009:

(click on image above to enlarge)

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Anyone out there using on-premises and/or hosted OCS? What do you want to see Microsoft add to the upcoming release?

Topics: Microsoft, Browser, Collaboration, Networking, Social Enterprise, Software, Telcos, Unified Comms

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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