Friday, July 27, 2007

Office Communications Server 2007, (OCS/2007) what is it?

OCS/2007 has been released for manufacturing by Microsoft. It is usually two to three weeks after a product is released to RTM, we could expect to see to product on the shelves for sale.
At its annual financial analysts meeting taking place Thursday, Jeff Raikes, president of Microsoft’s business division, said the development of Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 and the Office Communicator 2007 client is complete, and they will be released to manufacturing (RTM) Friday.

So what is this OCS/2007? If you did not know, Network World has a good explanation but the same magazine says that OCS need to grow up! I think as usual Microsoft will feed it after selling it to customers.

* Voice-over-IP: OCS/2007 basically is a Voice-over-IP phone system that allows you to install the Microsoft Office Communicator 2007 client software and have a softphone for incoming and outgoing telephony communications. There are hardware phones coming out on the market to coincide with the release of OCS/2007 that will allow organizations the ability to replace physical phones with either Voice-over-IP phones or with softphones for OCS

* Instant Messaging: OCS/2007 is the replacement of Live Communications Server 2005 (LCS). LCS was Microsoft’s instant messaging system, now OCS takes over that server role

* Application Sharing: OCS/2007 also allows sharing of apps among users in an organization, similar to Live Meeting or WebEx, however instead of having to pay a fee per session on an externally hosted app sharing system, OCS/2007 allows an org to host their own sessions (note: I’m asked all the time whether OCS/2007 can completely replace WebEx type services, and the answer I give is “OCS 2007 can typically replace 80-90% of an organization’s external hosted provider application sharing needs as OCS/2007 is extremely easy to use for typical 5-10 user online meetings. However when you are trying to do an online meeting with hundreds of users from all over the world both internal and external users, a Live Meeting or WebEx hosted solution is a better fit for those occasions”)

* Video Conference: OCS/2007 also allows for video conferencing, and not just one to one sessions like NetMeeting used to do, but also one to many, and many to many video conferences

* Presence: You’ll hear this a lot about OCS/2007 integration with Office 2003 / 2007 and SharePoint is the concept of “presence” that is built in to OCS/2007. Basically OCS/2007 knows when a user is logged on and active on their system, so at any point a user can see whether someone is “online”, “out of office”, “busy” and a user can right click on another user’s name and start an email, open up a IM session, initiative a video or audio conference, or make a Voice-over-IP phone call to the person.


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