Just a little over a year ago Microsoft merged its Exchange server and Real-Time Collaboration (RTC) groups to form the Unified Communications Group (UCG) under corporate vice president Anoop Gupta and put it in the Business Division (mostly Office), led by division president Jeff Raikes. The UCG is responsible for Microsoft’s well hyped Unified Communications push announced last June. Today, however, Mary Jo Foley reports that Gupta is out and Raikes has personally taken over UCG leadership.
The ostensible reason for the change is that Gupta felt is was time to move on to a new role. His new job is corporate vice president of technology policy and strategy under Microsoft Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie.
Aug. 8, 2006 — Today from the SpeechTEK 2006 conference in New York, Microsoft Corp. announced that the full capabilities of Microsoft® Speech Server 2007 will be integrated into Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, extending the company’s commitment to unified communications and breaking down today’s silos of instant messaging, Internet Protocol telephony, voice response, audioconferencing and videoconferencing.
Microsoft announced Office Communications Server 2007 earlier this summer as a key component of the company’s unified communications road map. Office Communications Server 2007 is a real-time communications hub, enabling people to connect to colleagues and information quickly and easily within familiar applications, devices and networks. The addition of speech capabilities gives developers the opportunity to create new and powerful communications applications or extend existing applications using an integrated set of application programming interfaces (API) and by extending existing applications for Office Communications Server 2007, enabling new revenue streams for their businesses.
With the integration of Speech Server 2007 into Communications Server 2007, current Speech Server customers will be fully supported by Microsoft until 2014, and Speech Server 2004 R2 will remain on the Microsoft price list until the end of 2007. In addition, current Speech Server customers who want to leverage these new capabilities will be able to migrate to Communications Server 2007 when it ships next year.
There’s also a Q&A with Microsoft CVP Anoop Gupta here. It’s all part of the big “Unified Communications” push for Office announced in June and while it’s likely good news for the product, there was some grumbling among partners and analysts.
Last January, Microsoft merged Exchange and Real-Time Collaboration (RTC) groups to form the Unified Communications Group (UCG) under corporate VP Anoop Gupta, and yesterday the group had a gala introduction of their upcoming enterprise offerings for unifying all of the forms of business communication. Press release:
June 25, 2006 – Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, today unveiled the company’s vision, technology road map and partner framework for unified communications at a strategy event in San Francisco. Microsoft Corp.’s approach to unified communications will break down today’s silos of e-mail, instant messaging, mobile and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) telephony, and audio-, video- and webconferencing. Through software, Microsoft and its partners will put people at the center of communications through a single identity across all modes and integrate communication into people’s everyday work processes, including the widely used Microsoft® Office system and third-party software applications.
Raikes was joined onstage by Anoop Gupta, corporate vice president of the Microsoft Unified Communications Group, to demonstrate key capabilities of the new and updated servers, services and devices:
• Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007, a robust, flexible, Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) standards-based real-time communication platform that enables presence-based VoIP call management; audio-, video- and webconferencing; and instant messaging communication within and across existing software applications, services and devices.
The former name was Live Communications Server so some branding confusion got sorted out as well.
• Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 unified messaging goes beyond e-mail and today’s stand-alone voice-mail systems to deliver a unified inbox experience that includes e-mail, voice mail and faxing functionality, as well as new capabilities such as speech-based auto attendant allowing users to access their communications from any phone.
• Microsoft Office Communicator 2007, a unified communications client that works in tandem with Office Communications Server 2007 to deliver a presence-based, enterprise VoIP “softphone”; secure, enterprise-grade instant messaging that allows for intercompany federation and connectivity to public instant messaging networks such as MSN®, AOL and Yahoo!; one-to-one and multiparty video- and audioconferencing; and webconferencing. As with the previous versions, Office Communicator 2007 will be available in desktop, browser-based and Windows Mobile®-based versions.
Yet another promise of IM interoperation.
• Microsoft Office Live Meeting, a rich conferencing service designed to help users more effectively collaborate, conduct training and deliver presentations using just a PC and an Internet connection. Improvements to Office Live Meeting include support for e-learning, enhanced audio and video capabilities including VoIP, a streamlined user interface, seamless integration with the Microsoft Office system and simpler deployment.
• Microsoft Office RoundTable™, an audio-video collaboration device with a unique 360-degree camera. When combined with Office Communications Server 2007, RoundTable delivers an immersive conferencing experience that extends the meeting environment across multiple locations. Meeting participants on site and in remote locations gain a panoramic view of everyone in the conference room as well as close-up views of individual participants as they take turns speaking.
This appears to the be a productization of Microsoft’s Research’s Ringcam prototype.
• Microsoft Office Communicator phone experience, Communicator-based software designed to run an innovative set of new voice and video devices – including business-enabled IP desktop phones – from Polycom Inc., LG-Nortel Co. Ltd. and Thomson Telecom. This is a new ecosystem designed to run on dedicated communications devices in tandem with Office Communications Server 2007 to extend and enhance the Microsoft unified communications experience.
• PC peripheral devices, such as USB handsets, wireless USB headsets, USB webcams and PC monitors with built-in audio and video components. Devices from industry partners GN Netcom Inc., Logitech, Motorola, Plantronics Inc., Samsung and Tatung Co. will work with Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 to deliver a compelling communication experience on the PC.
IBM will announce Monday that Lotus Sametime, version 7.5, the company’s instant messaging and collaboration tool, will integrate with Microsoft Outlook, Office, and SharePoint applications.
The company also said Sametime 7.5 will directly connect to mobile Research in Motion (RIM), Nokia, and Windows Mobile devices.
The announcement is being made on the same day that Microsoft is expected to unveil its unified communications strategy and the timing is not coincidental, according to Matthew Brown, a senior analyst at Forrester.
“This is a full frontal assault on Microsoft’s communications strategy,” Brown said.
“Full frontal assault” seems a trifle overheated.
Related Microsoft press releases:
• Global Telecommunications Providers to Build Innovative Business IP Phones on Microsoft’s Unified Communications Platform
• Microsoft and Siemens Collaborate to Usher in New Era of Unified Communications
• Microsoft, HP to Work Together to Deliver Unified Communications Solutions to Enterprise Customers
• Microsoft and Motorola Form Strategic Alliance to Extend Unified Communications to Mobile Devices
• Q&A: Microsoft’s Unified Communications Strategy and Solutions
• Q&A: Microsoft Speech Server’s Growing Adoption in the Enterprise
Microsoft today announced it is merging the Exchange and Real-Time Collaboration (RTC) groups to form the Unified Communications Group (UCG). With the mission-critical nature of e-mail and the rapidly increasing use of instant messaging, VoIP, audio/video/Web conferencing, customers are asking for an integrated communications experience that enables them to intuitively and seamlessly communicate across all modes of communication. The merger of the teams aligns Microsoft’s efforts internally and allows the company to more rapidly and effectively addresses these customer needs.
The Unified Communications Group resides in Microsoft’s Business Division, led by division President Jeff Raikes. The combined group will be led by Anoop Gupta, currently corporate vice president of the RTC group.
Gupta, whose leadership of the combined unit was also announced Monday, used to head the RTC unit. Under the changes, Exchange chief Dave Thompson will continue to direct that product, but will report to Gupta. Thompson had reported to Paul Flessner, a senior vice president in the server and tools business.
You may recall that the Business Division was created last September by having Information Worker (aka Office) and Microsoft Business Solutions report to Raikes, so the net is that Exchange has been moved out of Server and Tools (part of the Kevin Johnson/Jim Allchin Platform Products & Services Division) and into Office.
The rest of the press release has some Q&A’s with Gupta which provide the usual corporate reorganization rationale of improved coordination, but I’m sure it didn’t hurt that a premier server product like Exchange will add some earnings mojo to the lackluster results in the Business Division (, ).
And speaking of financial results, Microsoft separately announced the CFOs for the three overarching divisions created in the September announcement. Details are in the Ina Fried article linked above.