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Microsoft Office Communication Server Gets New Name

Microsoft has renamed its unified communications software and is also giving fresh guidance on when customers can expect to see the next iteration of the product hit the market.

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Microsoft's Office Communication Server "14" is now known as Microsoft Lync 2010, and it's due to hit the market by year's end, said Kirk Gregersen, senior director of Microsoft Office product management, in a Monday blog post.

Lync 2010 is the latest iteration of Microsoft's unified communications vision, which weaves together enterprise VoIP and instant messaging with Web, audio and video conferencing.

Microsoft changed the name to show how these previously disparate communications "silos" can now be delivered on the same back-end infrastructure, offering the same user experience, Gregersen said in the blog post.

"In that sense, Lync -- a combination of “link” and “sync” -- is about connecting people in new ways, anytime, anywhere," Gregersen said in the blog post. "Beyond simplifying and shortening the current branding, customer research found that the name Lync appeals to end users and IT pros, even more than descriptive options like Communicator. "

Microsoft now has 20,000 employees using the Lync 2010 beta, as well as 100 enterprise customers, according to Gregersen.

When Microsoft launched Office Communication Server 2007 nearly three years ago, it began drilling home the message that the software-only approach would essentially displace the IP PBX over time. Microsoft executives have continued using this as the main thrust of the company's competitive messaging against Cisco, its largest rival in the unified communications space.

At the Voicecon conference in March, Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Unified Communications Group, reiterated this message.

"Communications centered solely around the desk phone and built on hardware-based systems are quickly becoming a relic of the past," Pall wrote in a March blog post. "In fact, many of today's PBXs belong in a museum; they are already artifacts of the past."

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