In what some see as an effort to enhance the appeal of upgrading to Office 2007 when it's released, Microsoft has announced integrated software that will turn into a platform for VoIP, email, IM and video chat.
The Office Communications Server 2007 will feature SIP for VoIP call management, audio, video, web-conferencing, and IM, while the Microsoft Exchange Server will support unified messaging.
Email and voice messages will go to the same inbox.
A number of other services and servers were also announced, including Microsoft Office Communicator 2007, which is a unified communications client that will deliver a presence-based, enterprise VoIP "softphone"; secure instant messaging that allows for connectivity to IM networks like MSN, AOL, and Yahoo; video- and audioconferencing; and webconferencing.
Microsoft is also supporting a number of peripheral devices like the one recently launched by Plantronics.
The Voyager 510-USB headset system connects wirelessly for VoIP connectivity and is designed for use with the new Communications Server 2007 and Communicator 2007.
It's hoped that the unified platforms will encourage users to pay for the new Office edition, as so far the software doesn't seem to offer much in the way of must-have features.