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VoIP Product of the Year: Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007
With OCS, Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft has delivered a one-stop shop for VoIP, IM, audio conferencing and videoconferencing. It's a unified communications platform that keeps employees conntected, and helps them collaborate so business decisions can be made quickly. Need to know if a co-worker is available for a phone call or videoconference? OCS shows you the presence status of other users, a cornerstone of the product's productivity features.
Behind it all lies Active Directory, which is the engine that fuels OCS's deep presence awareness reach, collecting and storing contact information. It's capable of acting as stand-alone IP-PBX, but OCS also works with many legacy PBX systems to achieve some level of presence awareness. It's unified messaging capabilities tie in with Microsoft Exchange, so OCS users can receive and manage their voicemail messages via e-mail and interact with other features in Exchange.
OCS can also interact with Microsoft Office applications, allowing users to exchange detailed information on their whereabouts. For instance, whenever users look at e-mails in Outlook they can see the presence information of the senders. They can see if other users are available on the network or are able to talk.
By simply getting presence information from Outlook, users are able jump right into voice conversations. OCS is capable of managing connections with the types of devices and communication paths that users want to make available. What's more, OCS will make the right connection and reach users based on their active presence properties. Users have a lot of control over their communication by being able to redirect calls on the fly from any location.
The VoIP market is sure to be a rough-and-tumble space in the year ahead with so many big names slugging it out for share. We have no doubt solution providers working with Microsoft OCS will be able to land some pretty big punches.