Microsoft readies Office Communicator 2010 beta

It looks like interested parties may get a demo of a beta of one component of Microsoft's Office Communications Server 2010 release -- the Communicator enterprise instant-messaging client -- in March.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

As I've blogged before, the next release of Microsoft's Office Communications Server is in development, with a final release slated for the last calendar quarter of 2010. But it looks like testers are going to be able to get their hands on to see a demo (possibly ) of a beta of one component of the 2010 release -- the Communicator enterprise instant-messaging client. -- before the end of March.

Update (February 11): Microsoft officials told me late yesterday that the March public beta date stated in the conference agenda to which I pointed was incorrect. I see they've now removed all the information about that session, rather than correcting the public data date. I'm betting the Softies still might discuss and show the next Communicator release at the conference, and maybe even release the private "Metro" beta in early April (which would be the Q2 reference on the timeline I've included here. But officials declined to say anything more, when I asked.)

Office Communications Server (OCS) is Microsoft's unified instant messaging/VOIP/conferencing product. Communicator is the client for OCS.

Microsoft is going to be showing off Communicator 2010 at the UC Expo conference in England in mid-March. (As noted above, Microsoft has removed the information from the conference Web site.)

On the Web site for the show, the write-up for the Microsoft session said that the UK showing on March 10 will be the first outside the U.S. for the next-generation Communicator client "and two weeks earlier than the official public beta launch."

At the 2009 Professional Developers Conference, Microsoft provided a roadmap for its Office Communications Server 14 (2010) release, noting that early adopters in its "Metro" program would get test builds in mid-2010, shortly after the final versions of Office 2010 and SharePoint 2010 are released.

Microsoft officials said at the PDC to expect the forthcoming OCS release to be tightly integrated with Exchange Server 2010 (on both the data and business logic fronts), as well as with Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation. There are several new, related software development kits and newly exposed programming interfaces in the works for the OCS 14 release that will make it easier for developers and customers to customize and extend the presence, telephony and other built-in OCS features, officials said.

Microsoft delivered the most recent version of its Communications Server software (known as OCS 2007 R2) in late 2008. Microsoft also offers a Microsoft-hosted version of Communications Server as part of its Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) service.

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