Microsoft's next developer platform frontier: Unified communications

Microsoft's next developer platform frontier: Unified communications

Summary: Microsoft got its start by appealing to developers. Since its early days, the company has added more and more developer platforms to its line-up. And now it's building out another: An official developer platform for unified communications.

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Microsoft got its start by appealing to developers. Since its early days, the company has added more and more developer platforms to its line-up. And now it's building out another: An official developer platform for unified communications.

Unified communications, in Microsoft parlance, refers primarily to Exchange Server and Office Communictions Server (OCS). Ultimately, Microsoft wants its UC platform to encompass PBX systems, desktop phones, VOIP platforms, Web conferencing systems, faxes and mobile phones. In addition to the software products powering these systems, Microsoft also is developing hosted versions of these UC products that it has begun rolling out to enterprise customers.

Microsoft wants to create a set of developer tools and management tools that will enable third-party developers to write add-ons to its family of UC products. Simultaneously, Microsoft is exposing some of the application programming interfaces (APIs) that are at the core of OCS 2007, the version of Microsoft's corporate instant-messaging/conferencing/VOIP product that is due to ship before the end of June.

Microsoft blogger Joe Calev has been posting a multi-part series on some of the core OCS APIs of which Microsoft is encouraging developers  to take advantage. Among these are:

* Office Communicator Automation API, allowing developers to "query for presence information, launch IM, voice and video sessions, and enhance the client experience"

* Communicator Web Access, an Ajax API for creating Web clients similar to the Web-based Office Communicator

* OCS Server API for building plug-ins to OCS that can "monitor, archive and affect the routing of messages through the server"

* Unified Communications Client API (UCCA) for creating SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) clients

* Unified Communications Managed API (UCMA), codenamed "Warsaw," for creating SIP clients, SIP servers and middle-tier applications

* Speech Server API for creating speech/telephony applications.

I'm not sure what kinds of new tools are coming from Microsoft for developers in this space. Anyone seen/heard anything on that front?

Topics: Microsoft, Software Development

About

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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