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December 12, 2006

Microsoft launches private beta of Office Communications Server 2007

Posted by David Hunter at 9:39 AM ET.

Press release:

Microsoft Corp. today opened a private beta of its new enterprise voice communications server, Microsoft® Office Communications Server 2007, to 2,500 IT professionals. Office Communications Server 2007 allows companies to integrate voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology into existing telephony infrastructure, eliminating the need for expensive network overhauls and also extending the useful life of existing investments. The new voice server will also allow workers to instantly launch a phone call from 2007 Microsoft Office applications, such as Office Word 2007, Office Outlook® 2007 or Office Communicator, by simply clicking on a colleague’s name to determine his or her availability and initiate a person-to-person or multiparty call.

With native support for Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft Office Communicator, part of the 2007 Microsoft Office system, interoperate with products from industry partners including Nortel Networks, Alcatel-Lucent, Avaya Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., LG-Nortel Co. Ltd., Mitel Networks Corp., NEC Philips Unified Solutions, Polycom Inc. and Siemens Communications Inc. Through these relationships, customers worldwide will be able to support VoIP using their existing desktop phones, data networks and time division multiplexing (TDM) or Internet protocol (IP) private branch exchanges (PBXs). Customers will also able to leverage the softphone capabilities of Office Communicator to make and receive phone calls from their PCs, eliminating the need to purchase expensive IP-compatible phones.

Microsoft is being coy about an availability date, but Office Communications Server (which had a shotgun wedding with Exchange in January) is key to Microsoft’s Unified Communications push. There’s also a Q&A on the whole lashup here.

Filed under Alcatel-Lucent, Beta and CTP, Cisco, Coopetition, Exchange, Microsoft, Mitel, Nortel, Office, Office Communications Server, Servers

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October 31, 2006

Deals, deals, deals

Posted by David Hunter at 4:03 PM ET.

It seems to be Microsoft deal day and leading off is the news that Microsoft’s Halo video game based movie, which went on the rocks when Universal and Fox withdrew their funding, has been indefinitely postponed:

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday said the company and the Oscar-winning team behind “The Lord of the Rings” films have postponed “Halo” — the movie based on Microsoft’s popular alien shoot-up video games.

“At this time Microsoft, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh have mutually agreed to postpone making a feature film based on the Halo video game,” Microsoft said in a statement.

“While it will undoubtedly take a little longer for Halo to reach the big screen, we are confident that the final feature film will be well worth the wait,” said the company, which through a spokesman declined further comment.

Leaving broken Hollywood dreams behind for the mundane technical variety, if Microsoft did a big unified communications deal with Nortel why are they demoing with Mitel?

Well, if past deals have problems, there are always new deals like Microsoft and Zend Technologies Announce Technical Collaboration to Improve Interoperability of PHP on the Windows Server Platform. No financial terms were disclosed, but I find it hard to believe that it is a great business opportunity for Zend without some reimbursement from Microsoft. Best line:

The companies believe the alternative “WIMP stack”–which substitutes Windows and the Internet Information Server (IIS) for Linux and Apache–will have some appeal.

Here’s another one that asks more questions than it answers, but in a potentially interesting way:

Autocell Laboratories Inc., a maker of automatic frequency management software for wireless networks and applications, has confirmed that it has entered into a licensing agreement with Microsoft Corp., the company said on Tuesday.

The licenseing agreement is with respect to Acton-based Autocell’s patent portfolio related to load balancing, automatic channel selection, transmit power control, fast roaming, automatic secure wireless key distribution and generation, as well as various software architecture patents.

Microsoft has also obtained non-exclusive rights to use the Autocell access point and station source code bases.

And Microsoft isn’t just buying technology, it’s also selling – in China:

Today at the Innovation Summit in Beijing, Microsoft Corp. announced the first-ever licensing of technologies to two Chinese software companies, Comtech Group Inc. and Hunan Talkweb Information System Co. Ltd. (Talkweb). The innovative mobile communications technologies were developed by scientists at Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing. Comtech and Talkweb are demonstrating the potential for intellectual property created in China to be the basis for new businesses in the growing Chinese knowledge economy. Although Microsoft has successfully partnered with other companies and entrepreneurs in Europe and the U.S., this is the first time early-stage intellectual property-based technologies are being licensed under the shared-success business model of Microsoft IP Ventures in China.

The financial part of “shared-success” was not disclosed, but Microsoft says that they like the Chinese deals so much that they are working hard on more.

Filed under Autocell, Comtech, Coopetition, IP Ventures, Microsoft, Microsoft Research, Mitel, Nortel, Patents, Talkweb, Xbox, Zend

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