As promised earlier in March, Microsoft today released a public beta of Office Communications Server and related products:
The separate existence of Speech Server is a trifle odd since the last word had been that it was being folded into Office Communications Server.
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.
In a nutshell, a beta of Speech Server 2007 will be released in May with the product release planned for late 2006. If you aren’t familiar with Speech Server 2007, it’s “Microsoft’s next-generation speech and telephony platform to help contact centers and businesses meet the challenge of reducing costs while improving automated customer service over the telephone.” Just think of it the next time you hear “Your call is important to us.”
The press release has more details on what is new in Speech Server 2007 including support for SALT, VoiceXML, and VoIP plus new analysis tools and a new .NET API. As for the bottom line:
Over the past two years, Speech Server 2004 has been embraced by more than 100 customers in the United States and Canada. More than 40,000 telephony ports of capacity have been licensed, and Speech Server customers are successfully answering more than 10 million calls per month on the platform.
Seems like a comfy niche.
Oct. 6, 2005 —Microsoft Corp. today announced it has acquired certain intellectual property assets from Unveil Technologies Inc., a leading developer of enterprise call center technology and the award-winning Unveil Conversation Suite.
With this acquisition, Microsoft will be able to incorporate the Adaptive Learning and Conversation Assist components of the Unveil Conversation Suite into future versions of Microsoft® Speech Server, supporting the company’s continued commitment to deliver the most flexible and integrated speech platform at the lowest total cost of ownership.
Microsoft believes that, when integrated into the Speech Server platform, Unveil’s innovative learn-by-example and agent assist technologies will make it easier, faster and less expensive for customers to develop and optimize speech applications.