Microsoft To RTM Two Communications Products

Tomorrow, Microsoft takes the next step in effort to bridge the gap between telephone and computer, releasing to manufacturing (RTM) two key unified communications (UC) products.

Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, announced at Microsoft's financial analyst meeting Thursday that Office Communications Server 2007 and its client component, Office Communicator, are code complete and ready to go.

Gurdeep Singh Pall, vice president of the Unified Communications Group, stated Microsoft's UC goals in a press release:

"At Microsoft, we believe all forms of enterprise communications, including VoIP, are moving from hardware-based systems to software. This transformation is really what's behind unified communications. It's the transformation to software that makes it possible for businesses to streamline communications through a software interface and platform that unites voice, instant messaging, e-mail and video and Web conferencing."

During its final beta release last May, Microsoft added two key components: voice-over-IP and on-premise voice- and video-conferencing. That the RTM occurred so soon after the final beta indicates that Office Communications Server 2007 and Communicator haven't suffered greatly from stability or security issues. Microsoft said there were about 75,000 downloads of Office Communications Server 2007 during the beta process.

Office Communications Server was previously known as Live Communications Server. The pricing structure will be similar to its predecessor, meaning that customers will need both client and server client access licenses, or CALs. Office Communications Server 2007 offers both Standard and Enterprise license levels.

The Standard CAL, which offers IM presence features, will cost about $21 for the "average enterprise," according to Microsoft. The Enterprise CAL adds new Web and videoconferencing features and VoIP call management, and will be almost five times as expensive for the typical enterprise environment, at just under $100 for a single CAL. Discounts will be available through the Microsoft Enterprise CAL Suite.

Live Communications Server customers can upgrade to Office Communications Server CALs as part of their Software Assurance (SA) plan. Microsoft declined to give more specifics on pricing, but said more information will be forthcoming starting in August.

Pall said in the release that the product should be ready for shipping in the fall, although a specific ship date was not given.

About the Author

Keith Ward is editor of Virtualization Review magazine. You can contact Keith at [email protected].