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Microsoft jumps into unified communications market (November 01, 2007)

Microsoft Canada Co. has announced the availability of new communications products, which the company says marks the "first step" towards significantly reducing the cost of the average Voice over IP (...


November 1, 2007  


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Microsoft Canada Co. has announced the availability of new communications products, which the company says marks the “first step” towards significantly reducing the cost of the average Voice over IP (VoIP) communication system by half.

The unified communications products bring together the phone, e-mail, instant messaging and video via software.

“We’re bringing voice back into the enterprise by weaving it through familiar business processes,” said Phil Sorgen, president of Microsoft Canada. “Microsoft’s vision brings voice seamlessly into the productivity and knowledge tools businesses use today.”

“People no longer have to punch in a work phone number, cell phone coordinates, or try numerous e-mail and instant messaging addresses to reach whoever they want to contact. This simplifies connectivity for Canadian workers.”

The suite of products include client software for phone, instant messaging and video communications, Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft RoundTable, a conferencing phone with a 360-degree camera that can capture participants in a meeting and also record meetings.

E-mail and instant messaging may be the communication mediums of choice but Canadians say the lack of emotion in written messages frequently causes conversations to be misinterpreted, according to the results of a recent survey released by Microsoft Canada. While more than one-quarter of Canadians say they use e-mail to conduct business, 32 per cent say they have had an e-mail misinterpreted, and 66% say they need to spend additional time explaining the context or tone of a message to a colleague after sending.

“This survey illustrates how difficult it has been for people to use voice communications in business,” said Bryan Rusche, product manager, unified communications and collaboration with Microsoft Canada.

“People choose e-mail because it’s easy to incorporate with the way we work. How do you ‘reply all’ to a verbal conversation? Workers are also spending too much time trying to track others down or explaining their e-mails. That is why today we are bringing voice back to the workplace, merging voice, video and data in one place.”

Although e-mail is considered fast, people are spending at least 30 minutes a day re-reading messages to ensure tone and context are accurately communicated. As well, 67% of respondents admitted that they follow-up on important e-mail messages with a phone call, adding more time to their communications.

“Canadians are looking for ways to better express and more clearly convey their meaning and intent through e-mail,” said Warren Shiau, lead analyst of IT research with the Strategic Counsel. “The majority of respondents indicate they feel a need to use expressive tools like emoticons and Caps Lock in business e-mails to make sure the right message gets across. This points to a need to enrich messages with alternative communication methods such as voice.”