Office Communications Server 2007 will hit public beta some time later this month, according to the Softies.
OCS 2007 is Microsoft's combined instant-messaging/VOIP/audio-video conferencing server, and the successor to Microsoft's Live Communications Server product. OCS 2007 doesn't require Exchange Server to work, but Microsoft officials emphasizes the unified-messaging synergies of the two communications products.
Jeff Raikes, the head of Microsoft's Business Division, has said that unfied communications is the biggest growth opportunity that his group -- the one that develops Microsoft Office and SharePoint -- has, going forward.
About 1,700 enterprises have been testing privately since December 2006 OCS 2007. Microsoft soon will be taking sign ups via its Web site for the public OCS 2007 beta. Once available, the beta will be downloadable from Microsoft.com, said director of marketing Janice Kapner. The final release of OCS 2007 and the accompanying Office Communicator 2007 client, will be available this summer, she said.
On March 7, Microsoft announced that it will make available publicly to any interested partners the interoperability specifications for OCS 2007 and Office Communicator 2007. Up until Wednesday, Microsoft had made these specifications available only to selected partners, such as Cisco, Nortel and Avaya. Microsoft has no current plans push this specification through a standards body, as its technologies are "all based on SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) already," according to Kapner.
Given the ongoing problems Microsoft is having with the European Commission around the availability (or lack thereof) of its Windows communications protocols, I wonder if its move to release the OCS 2007 specs is driven as much by a desire to be a bigger player in the software-PBX market as it is by hopes of heading off more potential lawsuits.