Microsoft sets Unified Communications launch date

Microsoft sets Unified Communications launch date

Microsoft said Tuesday it will release Office Communicator 2007 and Office Live Meeting via a public webcast Oct. 16 co-hosted by Chairman Bill Gates and Microsoft Business Division President Jeff Raikes.

Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 is designed to enable companies set up VoIP phone systems and manage corporate instant messaging, e-mail and videoconferencing on a single IP network. Microsoft first released a beta of that product last December. The company announced the official release date at the VoiceCon conference in San Francisco.

The company said in May that OCS would interoperate with gear from some PBX vendors, in addition to equipment from Nortel Networks, through an alliance it had announced earlier.

Office Communicator 2007 is the desktop client equivalent of OCS. Office Live Meeting is a webconferencing product that comes in the form of software as well as a hosted service, via Exchange 2007, will further raise the competition between Microsoft and Cisco, which is moving into the same space from its stronghold in physical networking and security gear.

The heads of the two companies, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers, held a joint interview Monday to attempt to dispel fears among large customers that increased competition will lead to incompatible gear and higher costs.

Ballmer and Chambers vowed that the two companies will continue to collaborate.

"Companies don't want the issue of competition to cause them to interoperate ineffectively," Chambers said.

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