Supporting customers on technology and using technology are very different. With the changes in Unified Communications though that line is beginning to blur. I am thoroughly excited about what is in store for the 2007 product release in the area of conferencing and voice technologies (for those running Exchange 2000 Conferencing, you have waited a long time for this release).
Microsoft allows for access to all corporate resources while outside the corporate network. The latest approach to leverage is a part of the Longhorn Server beta and remote desktop connectivity - I can be at home and connect to a work computer through one of these servers, I never have to make a VPN connection to the corporate network. Working for companies like this where your location is not important I can install and use Communicator at home or bring a work laptop home. This means that I could leverage all the technology of Office Communicator (OC) and Live Communications Server or as I am fortunate to be on the latest technology - OC 2.0 and Office Communications Server 2007 beta.
But do I really want to be online with my work credentials at 8:00pm at night or 6:00 am in the morning? If I want to do work then this is terrific but when I am on personal time I communicate with different people or possibly my friends at work but in a personal approach. Specifically I am now trying to figure out how to communicate best with my family. The phone works well and we have a home line and 2 cell phones (mine is a work supplied phone), my folks are in a similar position as is my sister and my brother only has a cell phone. My sister and her husband are notorious for not answering the home phone and also not returning voice messages so we call cell phones when really important stuff comes up. But what about my mom and dad having an opportunity to have a video call with the grandkids? While the 4 almost 5 year old can have a conversation our 2.5 year isn't as capable, but if they could see Nan and Pop would they do better? Seeing you shake your head no to my question is a lot better than silence on a phone call.
So Allison and I use Live Messenger, sort of expected wouldn't you say? But the whole family doesn't, in fact some don't have an account with any particular cloud, so how do we go about this? Sure everyone can get a Live account, and with the beta they could even get a Yahoo account and we can IM, and voice. If you don't sign in then it doesn't help and these services tend to provide a LOT of stuff, too much for me personally so is there another option? My dad and I are going to test Skype, not because we don't think it will work but to get a feel for the experience and to see how much we get for free. I think we can achieve the desired result of a voice and video call from Skype to Skype for free.
I will provide an update as well as my experience in setting up and using as Unified Communications is Unified Communications whether business or personal. The world is in the midst of a change and while I like things the way they are and simple, I have to experiment and experience the change. In 2000 with Exchange Conferencing I was thinking about how cool all of this was and never did much with it, now so much has changed that my kids should look at me crazy when I talk about the time that phone calls had no video :)