raikesToday at VoiceCon Spring 2007,  Jeff Raikes keynote detailed the next major towards realising Microsoft's 'Unified Communications' vision.

Here is a summary of the important points raised during the key note:-

In the next 3 years, 100 million people will be able to make Voice Over IP calls from directly within Microsoft Office,  twice the number of current business VOIP users.  This acceleration in adoption will be driven by applying software economics, with and approach to a traditionally hardware based industry.  According to Gartner,  IP handsets cost 40 to 45 percent of the cost of telephony installation,  a software approach to telephone will result in VOIP solutions costing half of what they do today

The availability of a public beta-test version of Office Communications Server 2007 and Communicator 2007.  I have been using this for a number of months now and its great news and wouldn't want to revert back to using Communicator 2005.  In the coming months I will share more information on what's in both OCS 2007 and Communicator 2007 and how its the next logical step towards releasing our Unified Communications vision.

Voice quality of pre-release version of OCS 2007 was considerably better than that provided by a leading provider's IP phones and CallManager.  Psytechnics,  an independent voice quality research firm,  conducted a benchmark study and discovered that pre-release version of OCS 2007 was comparable and in some cases better than one of the current leading IP solutions.

Easy transition from current technology to Office Communications Server 2007.  One of the key points I try to stress is that with OCS 2007,  we are not suggesting a rip and replace,  instead we are helping companies get more value out of their current PBX.  We are making interoperability specifications available for OCS 2007 and Communicator 2007 to ensure partners can integrate with their PBX solutions and applications.  With OCS 2007 I like to say we 'breathe new life into the existing PBX'.

Today's announcements are extremely exciting and in years to come people will look back at 2007 as the year when communications technology entered a new era. 

To hear it all from Jeff Raikes himself,  click on the image to view the video or take a look at the press release.