Passing The Torch: Polycom Takes Over Microsoft RoundTable

At VoiceCon Orlando on Tuesday, Polycom said it will take over RoundTable and rebrand it as the Polycom CX5000 Unified Conference Station. In the near future, Polycom will update RoundTable and add new features and functions.

Neither Microsoft nor Polycom disclosed the financial terms of the agreement that brings RoundTable to Polycom. Eric Swift, Microsoft's senior director of unified communications, however, noted that there are licensing and distribution arrangements in place.

Jim Kruger, vice president of marketing for Polycom, said the swap fits with Polycom's portfolio of phones and video solutions that integrate with Microsoft's Office Communication Server. Essentially, Kruger said, Polycom becomes the worldwide reseller for what was once RoundTable. Taking over RoundTable will enable the system to reach more markets. Kruger said VARs will have access to the products through distribution.

Microsoft originally introduced RoundTable, now the CX5000, in October 2007 with the launch of OCS. RoundTable is a plug-and-play device that connects to a PC through a USB connection. It is designed for companies that use Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2007 or OCS 2007 that want audio and video communications. The device offers a panoramic 360-degree view of the entire meeting room, with the camera capturing whomever is speaking. In the past year, Microsoft has sold roughly 7,000 RoundTable units, Swift said.

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Swift said passing RoundTable over to Polycom falls in line with Microsoft's original plan to create an open hardware ecosystem around OCS.

"It was always part of the plan he said," adding that Polycom can now take the product and go further with it.

Swift said Microsoft will continue to sell and ship RoundTable until April 12. Starting April 13, the rebranded Polycom CX5000 will be available and shipped through Polycom. Polycom will also support the CX5000 devices it sells starting April 13. Once the CX5000 is available, RoundTable will no longer be sold. CX5000 will not be available through Microsoft, but Swift said Microsoft will continue to support RoundTable.

Kruger said the MSRP for the CX5000 will be $4,300, with a street price of less than $4,000. It will be available in 27 countries.