During "Unified Communications Day" in San Francisco, Microsoft announced that a new Office Communications Server 2007 would bundle voice (including presence-based VoIP call management), video, IM and email into a single enterprise applications platform.
Additionally, Office Communications Server 2007 will contain the Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 client -which will in turn, offer a VoIP softphone.
Pardon me if I sound a bit underwhelmed. When it comes to the VoIP component, it seems to me that MSFT left something important out. Why not have a click to call icon within individual Office applications such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint? Is this functionality not being offered within individual Office programs because you want to shoehorn as many prospective customers as you can into going the full OCS 2007 route?
Fellow blogger Tom Keating shares some of my reservations, and has a few of his own as well.
Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 uses Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standards-based protocol to enable presence-based VoIP call management, as well as VoIP communication. Unfortunately, it appears as though this solution is strictly targetting the enterprise and completely ignoring the consumer market. Although it does support SIP, it will not support all SIP based VoIP networks, but instead only connect to Microsoft's proprietary (and commercial) Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 platform.
Then, Tom strikes a powerful blow against the proprietary nature of ICS 2007's IM and IP:
Sure, Microsoft has partnered with public instant messaging networks such as AOL and Yahoo! to offer IM connectivity, but what if I want to have my employees use my own SIP registrar server or SIP-based IP-PBX in combination with just the Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 client? Unfortunately, you can't. Stupid Microsoft does it again… When will they get it that with so many open-source solutions out there you can't get away with this proprietary stuff - proprietary solutions are so 1990s.
I agree. Microsoft may spin Office Communicator all they want, but I need to be convinced they just haven't thrown a bunch of applications in there, made them proprietary, hope that everything works, and then of course, charge a bundle.
As we both know, Microsoft has a track record of doing just that.