Microsoft plans to publicly release its beta Office Communications Server 2007 this month. Microsoft Business Division President Jeff Raikes made the announcement at the VoiceCon trade show in Orlando, signaling what could mark the beginning of a surge in VoIP and unified communications. Millions of users are expected to test the OCS 2007 system, which will work with several devices, phones, applications, services and management tools. "We're embarking on a software transformation similar to what we saw from the mainframe to the PC. With a shift of this magnitude, there will be tremendous opportunities for our industry partners worldwide," Raikes said.
Raikes said that OCS 2007 and Office Communicator 2007 are the most important new communications technologies since Microsoft Outlook 1997. Microsoft's Office Communications Server uses open, published interfaces and standards as a way to cut costs and interact with other voice over IP products currently on the market. The user can essentially call a colleague by clicking on their name within other Microsoft Office applications, like Outlook and Office SharePoint Server. OCS also includes "presence" technology, which determines person's availability and the best way to reach them at work or while they're on the road. The technology allows voice, audio and video conferencing as well as Web-based document sharing.