Microsoft's marriage of easy communications
The combination of Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Exchange Server 2007 brings voicemail to the in-box, and speed and flexibility to how Windows workers communicate
Office Communications Server 2007 serves up everything you’ve come to expect from Live Communications Server 2005 and takes it to that logical conclusion we all wished Redmond had gotten to earlier. The succinct list of new features and improvements goes like this: VoIP telephony (with a caveat or two), group IM, in-house Web conferencing (as opposed to hosted Live Meeting), better presence management (meaning more presencing options, and more control over who can contact you and when), new federation features (for connecting with external OCS and IM networks), better support for audio and video, enterprise-class management features, and support for a Star Trek-like addition to your conference room called RoundTable. Compared to LCS 2005, you'll also find significant differences in OCS 2007’s deployment architecture.
We’ll start with the brief 411 on as many of OCS’ new features as we can fit. VoIP is the obvious big news, though Microsoft plays this down in favor of integration with Exchange, SharePoint, and especially the Office clients. Bottom line: Behind your firewall and POTS lines, OCS can serve as a full-blown IP PBX with all the fancy call features you can imagine. All you need do is make sure your desks are equipped with SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) handsets supporting Real Time Protocol or that your clients are using Office Communicator 2007 in softphone mode. Users telephoning this way get all the IP PBX features we’ve come to expect, including forwarding, conferencing, deflection (to mobile phone, for example), and call logging on both the server and the client (stored in Outlook).
In fact OCS delivers some clever call features you won't find in third-party IP PBXes, at least not yet. One of those is the ability to assign rankings to calls. For example, before you dial, you could assign a call an importance ranking -- a great way to make sure that folks ignoring calls at their desk know they have to answer this one. Or, once a call is in progress, you could assign a call-sensitivity rating that might prevent other callers from joining in -- to prevent co-workers from hearing you get chewed out by the boss, for example.
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