Microsoft unified comms tools into production

Microsoft's unified communications division is upping the ante with the release of Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator 2007 to manufacturing.

Microsoft's unified communications division is upping the ante with the release of Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Communicator 2007 to manufacturing.

Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft's business division, told an analyst meeting last Thursday that the unified comms products would be sent to the production line the following day.

Office Communications Server and Office Communicator are two of the largest components of Microsoft's convergence strategy. Gurdeep Singh Pall, vice president of Microsoft's unified communications group, said the new products will cater to a broader shift in enterprise communications from hardware- to software-based systems.

"The transformation to software ... makes it possible for businesses to streamline communications through a software interface and platform that unites voice, instant messaging, e-mail and video and Web conferencing," said Pall in an interview published on Microsoft's Web site.

Pall claimed that 75,000 people had downloaded the public beta of Office Communications Server 2007 and he suggested that existing customers of Live Communications Server -- the predecessor to Office Communications Server -- would "have rights" to both the server and client access licences (CALs) for the new product.

He also detailed the pricing of those new licences: the "standard" CAL, featuring instant messaging and presence capabilities, will cost roughly US$21 for the average enterprise, while the "enterprise" CAL will add new conferencing and VoIP call management features and cost roughly US$97 (£48) for the average enterprise.

Microsoft has not revealed a launch date for Office Communications Server and Office Communicator, other than to say that they will hit the shelves sometime this autumn in the US.

Communications Server first went into beta in December 2006, shortly before Microsoft and Nortel announced they would join forces to bolster interoperability between their products.

David Meyer reported for ZDNet UK from London

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