Microsoft Unveils Unified Communications Developer Portal

In addition to APIs and SDKs, the new MSDN Unified Communications Developer Portal includes collaboration tools for integrating presence and 'click to communicate' functionality into applications, as well as tools for speeding up business workflows and expanding unified communications into mobile devices.

In a Q&A on Microsoft's Website, Kirt Debique, general manager for the Office Communications Platform And Solutions Group, said Microsoft is promoting the idea of a unified communications platform for developers to build on, an approach that will give developers a central point to "create a vibrant community."

"Following the launch of Office Communication Server 2007, we want to provide developers with the tools to build communications solutions on our OCS platform," according to Debique.

From a technology provider standpoint, Travis Fisher, executive vice president at Inacom Information Systems, a Salisbury, Md.-based solution provider, supports the idea of Microsoft being in the unified communication space.

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"Traditionally, phone systems last about 7 years, so if I'm able to come in with Microsoft's unified communication solution, I'll have time to get my foot in the door early on, while the client still has the competing system in place," said Fisher.

But gaining traction quickly in the unified communications market could prove difficult for Microsoft because the vendor doesn't have an established telephone platform, notes Fisher.

"It's still unclear how Response Point [Microsoft's small business VoIP product] will play in the market. But Microsoft has a solid footing in the mail server space, so you'd have to say that they've got that piece of the unified communication puzzle already worked out," Fisher said.