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Microsoft continues its quest for the perfect meeting-room bundle

Microsoft is continuing its work on improving meetings using a variety of its technologies, including Perceptive Pixel, Kinect, Lync and Skype.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Buried in Vanity Fair's thorough recap of how Steve Ballmer was replaced by Satya Nadella as Microsoft CEO is an interesting product tidbit.

PCWorld's Mark Hachman zeroed in on it: Microsoft is continuing its pursuit of the ultimate meeting-room app.


Both Gates and Nadella mentioned Microsoft's ongoing work in this space. Vanity Fair, calling the app "Meeting Room Plus," would enable meeting participants to share notes and other collateral in a more immersive, touch-based way.

As PCWorld noted, Microsoft already has a product that does some of this: The Lync Room System, which it introduced in February 2013. These systems, which are sold via resellers and often come bundled with one or two large touch-enabled Perceptive Pixel displays. The bundles can cost in the $15,000-plus range.

A couple of recent Microsoft job posts makes it clear that unified-communications is still at the heart of Microsoft's meetings work, though both Lync and Skype figure in where the company is going.

From one of those job posts:

"Room Systems is a team in meetings that is focused on building the end to end solution that powers the next generation meeting room experiences. We leverage the power of the Lync and Skype software ecosystems, and cutting-edge devices developed by our hardware partners. We recently shipped the first version of the Room System product to much excitement, and we are looking for a development leader to help us build the next generation of this pioneering solution."

What would be included in the next version? Add Kinect, Microsoft's Roundtable video-conferencing hardware and even more touch. From that same job post:

"Imagine a world where teams can communicate and collaborate effortlessly whether they are in the same room, across campus, or across the globe. All of this would be available at the press of a button through next-generation digital meeting rooms which erase the physical boundaries between co-workers and create an immersive tele-presence experience. Meetings in the future will be powered by touch-enabled hardware, digital whiteboards, Kinect-powered motion detection, panoramic Roundtable devices, and intelligent cameras with facial recognition. Users' tablets, phones, and laptops will seamlessly integrate into the overall meeting experience, with everything directly integrating with the Lync and Skype ecosystems."

Microsoft officials have made no bones about the fact that simplifying and improving meetings has been and continues to be a key goal for the company. And Microsoft is gearing up to start mass-producing its Perceptive Pixel displays. So maybe that "Meeting Room Plus" system is closer than some think....

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