Microsoft Demos New Communications Server

New soft PBX platform due out by end of year.

In what could be among the final releases of Microsoft's 2010 product wave, the company showed off Communications Server code name "14" last month at its Tech•Ed North America conference in New Orleans.

Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Office Communications Group, gave the demo during the keynote address given by Server and Tools President Bob Muglia (see "Key Windows Server Update").

Muglia said during the keynote that Communications Server 14 "will ship later this year." Communications Server 14 is the successor to the Microsoft Office Communications Server product. Quite likely, it will take on the Microsoft "2010" product nomenclature, because Communications Server 14 works with other products in the Microsoft stack, such as Office 2010, SharePoint 2010 and Exchange 2010, as well as some earlier versions of those products.

Steve Jobs

PCs Are Like Trucks While Tablets Are Cars

Apple's CEO, speaking at last month's Wall Street Journal All Things Digital conference talking about where he sees the future of desktop and notebook PCs, including Macs.

"PCs are going to be like trucks. They're still going to be around, they're still going to have a lot of value, but they're going to be used by one out of X people. I think that we're embarked on that. Is [the next step] the iPad? Who knows? Will it happen next year or five years from now or seven years from now? Who knows? But I think we're headed in that direction."

Microsoft recently announced that Communications Server 14 now supports Windows PowerShell scripting for management tasks. The key to Microsoft's new unified communications product is the Microsoft Communicator 14 client application, which will work across both PCs and mobile devices. Pall described Communicator as a "complete softphone." It shows pictures of contacts via SharePoint Server, enabling a Facebook-like social networking experience, he said.

A contact card in Communicator can also be accessed through Microsoft Office. The card enables multiple contact options, with buttons to push to call the contact or send an instant message or e-mail. Using SharePoint with Communications Server 14 will enable users to search for other people in the company who may be experts in a field. The search is based on keywords that users have entered in their contact card descriptions.

Overall, Communications Server 14 enables such functions as "presence, instant messaging, conferencing and enterprise voice capabilities," according to Microsoft's description. Microsoft previously unveiled Communications Server 14 at the VoiceCon Orlando 2010 conference in March, describing a few of its features. The company has now released a full roster of the features.

Gurdeep Singh Pall demos Microsoft Office Communications Server "14" at Microsoft Tech•Ed as Microsoft Server and Tools President Bob Muglia (partially obscured) watches.

Pall also noted that Microsoft changed its plans on a click-to-call feature in Communications Server 14. It will now support new customers on the feature, not just existing remote call control customers.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.