For me the office is Microsoft Office as my litmus test for whether I am working or not is what I am doing not where I am.    The final bit of Office 2010 is still in beta – Office Communicator 2010 and I have been pestering the development team  to get on the internal dogfood to see what the fuss is about.  I have to be honest and say that I was very happy with the old version as it just worked and was really useful like the presence information showing up in SharePoint and Outlook to make collaboration so easy.

In my hurry to upgrade I didn’t snapshot the old one so I can’t show you a comparison but it now has pictures of your colleagues..

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Top of the shop is Juliet (mrs DeepFat) and she is available (well to me she is!), she is outside of Microsoft (the messenger logo beside the pushpin which shows this) and has just gone away..

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This is good as I can use the Communicator to keep in touch with external contacts or for personal use such as when I am away from home. On the flip side I can hide details of my presence as I wish with the possible exception of my manager!

You can turn off the picture of yourself and what you see of your colleagues but I think this makes it a better experience. Of course I can go the full monty and have a video call with anyone with Communicator, and despite what BT is pushing with its TV ads with landlines I would say that a video call is the next best thing to meeting someone, even someone with a face for radio like me!

As before Outlook integration is impressive and You can respond to any mail with a communicator meeting or IM with one click. Also if you are already in a meeting or communicator call you can now literally drag someone into that meeting from communicator, assuming they are available.

The client is also available for the mobile and you can run it in a browser (Communicator Web Access) , and this is exactly what Microsoft means with its three screens and a cloud messaging.

If you want to try it in your organisation all the resources are here, but I would only show this to your users if you are serious about deploying it as they will probably bite your arm off to get their hands on it.