Microsoft goes in search of unified-communications developers

Microsoft goes in search of unified-communications developers

Summary: Microsoft is stepping up its efforts to get more developers to build products on top of its unified-communications technology, and has launched a new developer portal to provide a single spot for API, SDK and related documentation. Still no word on new unified-communications-spefici dev tools, however.


Microsoft is stepping up its efforts to get more developers to build products on top of its unified-communications technology.

Microsoft has been assembling its various programming interfaces and software-development kits (SDKs) for the elements that comprise its Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 product. On November 30, Microsoft announced a new unified-communications developer portal, where it will provide access to all of these APIs, SDKs and related documentation.

As it has done with its Dynamics ERP and CRM platforms, Microsoft is encouraging developers to license and embed chunks of Microsoft's core code into their products and build on top of them.

So far, Microsoft hasn't talked specifics about new tools it may release for developing VOIP, PBX, unified-inbox and other similar unified-communications applications. The company also hasn't discussed how/if it is encouraging partners to build new unified-communications services, not just software/hardware.

In a Q&A document on its press site, General Manager of Microsoft's Office Communications Platform & Solutions Group Kirt Dibique hints about what's coming next year:

"Going forward, we’re focused on delivering even more powerful APIs based on .Net and Web Services supported by easy-to-use, familiar and integrated tools. You’ll be hearing more from us at the 2008 Office Developers Conference in February."

Topics: Software, Collaboration, Microsoft, Software Development


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • This demonstrates one of Microsoft's core incompetencies.

    Go to the developer's site for this and then ask yourself one simple question: What the hades does Office Communications DO?

    Is it an IM server? Is it Sharepoint? Is it a Wiki? Is it a common area for shared projects (ie: Groove)? Is it video conferencing? Is it a VoIP system? Is it a floor polish? Is it a dessert topping?

    I run into this a lot with MS's business products. Here's a good and simple example: (and yes, I'm using an Apple product for the discussion - sue me - I'm not for or against Apple - this just happens to be a good example of something Windows does badly) iChat allows for video chats with two people in a group. This is an EXCELLENT feature for collaborative work and online meetings.

    Now - go and see if you can figure out what, if anything, Microsoft has like that. I still don't know. OCS looks like it *might* do it... not sure.

    A lot of the time, Microsoft creates collections of small features and no overarching concepts - which makes it hard for them to sell and hard for us to buy. I still get people asking me 'Why should I buy Vista?' or 'What's so good about .Net?' and I can give them specifics - but nothing huge and compelling that says 'wow - that's what I need...'

    Microsoft needs to learn marketing. Being the big gorilla for so long makes them lazy.
  • Only foolish companies become Microsoft "partners"

    Look around you and see the dead or dying bodies of the Microsoft "partners" who came before you. If you work really hard, are very smart, and are lucky, you might get a successful product on a Microsoft platform. But, death will come to you anyway ... from Microsoft itself.

    Microsoft always eats its own partners. Every single time.

    Furthermore, as a customer I would never buy a Microsoft phone system. There are good proven communications alternatives that [u]work[/u]. It would be INSANE to sign up for a Windows-based telephone and communications system. Just insane.

    Ask yourself one question: How will you call Microsoft's offshore call center to reactivate your Windows server when it falsely determines "Windows is not genuine", self-deactivates, and your Windows server controls your phones?

    No Microsoft phones for me.
  • Few takers at this point...

    The truth is, MS "says" they are documenting it but the truth is much is not being released, especially how SharePoint interop works with Office.

    But even more to the point, they have at least a dozen technologies in the mix, all are poorly documented, do not play well together, and in general difficult to come up with a "big picture" of where things are headed.

    MS seems to be deeply divided between giving developers the information needed to build world class apps and keeping "trade secrets" close to the chest. They haven't quite accepted they can't have it both ways.
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