Gurdeep Singh Pall, Microsoft's Unified Communications Group corporate VP, gave a demonstration of the Office Communications Server 14 at the VoiceCon conference in Orlando, FL, last week, and said that it should be available later this year. Singh also said that more than half of VoIP calls will include collaborative tools such as instant messaging and videoconferencing, within three years.
The idea of making an "ordinary telephony call in a business setting will seem outdated," he suggested.
2007 R2, the Microsoft Unified Communications solution, provides presence, instant messaging, unified conferencing (audio, video, and Web), and enterprise voice for businesses around the world.
Microsoft says that the increasing demand for hosted solutions in business, combined with broader use of Session Initiation Protocol, which lets service providers deliver data along with voice, is fueling the adoption of unified communications in the enterprise setting.
In OCS 14, Microsoft says it is adding tighter integration with SharePoint, Office, and Exchange. It is also advancing client integration with social networking such as activity feeds and improved skill-based search.
While UC may be popular in enterprises, some companies are still concerned about justifying ROI as the market instability rides out. Microsoft says that more than 70 percent of Fortune 100 firms have deployed OCS, and the number is growing. Main players in the UC space include Avaya, Cisco, and IBM, among others. The UC market is predicted by Forrester Research to grow five-fold to $14.5 billion by 2015.