Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Unified communications from a Microsoft Perspective

I just spent the better part of two days in a design meeting with Microsoft. The topic up for discussion was a Unified Messaging Infrastructure design. This centered around email and telephony integration. The Exchange 2007 and Open Communication Server 2007 product offering is pretty comprehensive. It seems to be giving Microsoft a reason for IT shops to drop IBM/Lotus Notes or Novell Groupwise and transition to Exchange.

As I contemplate the discussions of the last two days I realized one thing. In all of the discussions the subject of RSS feeds did not come up - until I asked a question. I know outlook can handle RSS feeds but you would think Microsoft Exchange would handle them too - both in and out bound. I think it is possible, you just have to invest in Sharepoint and deliver mail to a sharepoint database and generate an RSS feed from that. That seems just a little bit long winded.

Exchange and all of it's associated infrastructure from a unified messaging perspective offers most features that an enterprise might require but when I consider the cutting edge developments going on at the Edge in the Web 2.0-aware world it does make me wonder how relevant Microsoft can be in a Web 2.0 world.

The Enterprise licensing and Software Assurance that Microsoft is dealing with brings multi-million dollar, multi-year deals with large roll-out and upgrades to thousands of desktops and servers. That is a safe, comfortable world, for the time being. It suits their structured and controlled approach.

I wish I could put my finger on the heart of the issue. Microsoft produces some great software. It may just be two things

  1. Do it the Microsoft way - all the way
  2. Microsoft is a marketing juggernaut

Doing it the Microsoft way sticks with me from way back when I was using Microsoft Word under MS-DOS on an 80286 PC. Producing long and complex documents with MS-Word demanded that you began thinking about documents just like the designers of Word. If you didn't buy in to their approach then things got brutal and really ugly very quickly.

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