ORLANDO, Fla. — March 24, 2010 — Today at the VoiceCon Orlando 2010 conference, Microsoft Corp. announced that the next version of its unified communications software, code-named Communications Server "14," will be available in the second half of 2010. In his keynote address, Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Office Communications Group, demonstrated the new software for the first time publicly and said Communications Server "14" will help make communications simpler, more open and more cost-efficient.
Pall said the new software includes a complete communications solution, with full enterprise telephony; a familiar and powerful way to communicate and collaborate using a sleek, simplified Communicator client that works with Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint Server and Microsoft Exchange; and a versatile platform that allows customers to embed communications in applications. In addition, customers will be able to use instant messaging, presence and other capabilities of the software both on-premises and in the cloud with Microsoft Office Communications Online.
Among the capabilities demonstrated today, Pall showed how Communications Server "14" helps people find colleagues based on their expertise through a new skill search feature; understand when their colleagues are available to collaborate and, with a new location-awareness feature,where they are available; easily initiate collaboration; and bring together the content, resources and people needed to work together.
Three years ago, business communications technology began the transformation from technology silos into an integrated software platform. Now, Microsoft's unified communications software has been adopted broadly by millions of customers.
In his keynote address, Pall predicted that technologies such as Communications Server "14" will usher in a new chapter in business communications, the rise of "connected communications." He predicted that, in the next three years, more than 75 percent of new business applications will include embedded unified communications, and plain business calls will become outdated with more than 50 percent of voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) calls incorporating more than just voice.
"With software at the center, innovation in this industry has accelerated, leading to the introduction of new capabilities that leapfrog traditional hardware-bound communications systems," Pall said.
Forrester Research estimates that the market for unified communications software will grow to $14.5 billion by 2015.*
Earlier this week, 12 Microsoft partners also announced new products and services that enhance Communications Server "14." These include low-cost Internet protocol (IP) phones, branch office survivability solutions, call accounting software, and enhanced 911 solutions that augment Microsoft's enterprise telephony offering.
These partners join a broad ecosystem of thousands of partners delivering solutions for Microsoft's unified communications software, including applications, voice services, session initiation protocol (SIP) trunking, and interoperable private branch exchanges (PBXs) and gateways.
"Customers and partners have flocked to Office Communications Server since its introduction in October 2007, because businesses are quickly seeing cost savings and productivity gains," Pall said.
Today, Office Communications Server is one of the fastest growing servers at Microsoft, with double-digit growth over the past three years. Fortune 500 companies, top pharmaceutical firms, successful financial institutions and large communications providers now use Office Communications Server, including A.T. Kearney, Infonavit and Sprint Nextel.
"Office Communications Server offers us the features we need out of the box, without requiring additional licenses, and we expect to save 20 percent or more in costs each year," said Kevin Rice, global network architect for A.T. Kearney. "The interoperability with Office and SharePoint Server also gives us the ability to 'click to dial' colleagues from these applications, and we've avoided the cost of hardware and licensing required by other vendors, since everything from conferencing to VoIP comes in one package."
More information about Communications Server can be found athttp://www.microsoft.com/communicationsserver.