Entering the era of integrated communications

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Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates demonstrates Microsoft RoundTable

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October 25, 2007 Internet based telephony is nothing new with applications like Skype becoming firmly established in recent years, but fresh initiatives from Microsoft and new approaches such as Voxio’s Flash-based system indicate that integrated communications is set to expand its scope into the mainstream.

Voixio is taking has developed an Internet telephony system that eliminates the need to download a separate application for making calls by employing Adobe Flash. Launching at World Telemedia Prague 7-9 November, the system facilitates voice and video calls directly from a web browser and to 3G video mobiles, as well as fixed calls to landline and mobile phones. Users also have the option to divert calls to a landline or mobile number when not logged into the site.

The technology itself is called Zenon and can be integrated into any website, not just utilized from Voixio. Site owners or visitors are able to embed presence-enabled widgets into existing web pages that allow them to be contacted via both voice and video calls with a single click – a feature that will no doubt garner interest in the realm of social networking websites. See Telemedia for a full run down of the system. http://www.telemedia-news.com/newsitem.aspx?id=1210

The other major announcement in this area recently comes from Microsoft. According to Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates: “in the next decade, sweeping technology innovations driven by the power of software will transform communications” and the company sees its new unified communications and VoIP software suite as a first step toward streamlining workplace communications and helping reduce the cost of the average corporate voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) system by half.

The unified communications and VoIP software includes functionality such as VoIP, video, instant messaging, advanced conferencing, document sharing, voice recording, email, voice mail and calendaring. One product, Microsoft RoundTable offers a conferencing phone with a 360-degree camera that captures a panoramic view of meeting participants, tracks the speaker and can record meetings. Although not aimed at the mass consumer market, these business tools promise significant cost savings to corporate customers. More than 50 partners - including systems integrators and telephony providers - joined Microsoft to announce new products and services built on the new unified communications platform.

“We are deploying Office Communications Server 2007 globally, and already people are seeing substantial time savings and productivity gains,” said Etienne de Verdelhan, chief information officer with L’Occitane, a global retailer of natural ingredient cosmetics with more than 900 stores in over 60 countries.

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