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Microsoft announces Communications Server "14"

Microsoft said on Wednesday that it will be making the next version of its unified communications software, code-named Communications Server "14", available in the second half of 2010.

Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Unified Communications Group, took the stage at the VoiceCon 2010 conference in Orlando to demonstrate the new software. Office Communications Server is used at large businesses and corporations for employee internal instant messaging. It's the business version of Microsoft's popular Windows Live Messenger. New improvements include:

  • Location services integration - users location can be auto detected from the subnet where the user is wired or the nearest wireless access point. Users can also set custom locations.
  • Activity feeds - Users can update their status and have the status displayed in the contact list.
  • Dial Pad - Option to use dial pad interface for calls. Users can dial by name or click to call others from their contact lists. Voicemail messages are also available from the dialing tab.
  • Voice Mail improvements - Voice mail is now recorded and transcribed to text in real time.
  • Device Selection - Users can select their audio device directly from the Microsoft Communicator interface
  • Simultaneous Ring - Users can forward inbound calls to specific numbers, straight to voice mail or ring at multiple numbers simultaneously.
  • Contextual calls in real time - Users can enter a subject immedialy before placing a call allowing recipients to see the call subject
  • Contact card changes- Newly designed contact card with just the basics similar to Outlook 2010 and an extended card to display full information from Active Directory.

Microsoft confirmed Office Communications Server (OCS) has grown by double digits every year for the last three years and is one of the fastest growing servers at Microsoft. Today, more than 70% of the Fortune 100 companies are using OCS internally.

"We see a future where communications is more open, costs less, and is easier to use," said Gurdeep Singh Pall. "Three years from now, new applications written by corporate developers, system integrators and software vendors will be communications-enabled by default. We predict that three out of every four new business applications will include embedded communications."

Microsoft did not confirm exactly when Office Communications Server "14" will be available apart from that it will be released in the second half of 2010.

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