{ ready.for.take.off.here} Windows Server 2008, Visual Studio 2008 & SQL Server 2008 Launch Wave

October 18, 2007

A New Way to Communicate Starts Today

Filed under: Uncategorized — stefangeorgescu @ 2:08 pm

In the large tent outside the venue this morning, I had the chance to eat breakfast with several of our customers.  We talked all about the current state of communications.  They described how the communications world is split in two — they communicate on the telephone and they communicate on the computer.  They emphasized that both are essential, but the split between the two forms of communications oftentimes causes challenges, from communications overload to increasing costs to manage separate networks.

This short conversation mirrored what we have been hearing from many of our customers.  I was tempted to tell them all about unified communications at that moment, but then decided it would be best to leave it to Bill Gates and Jeff Raikes.

In the main auditorium, the lights dimmed promptly at 9:15 AM, indicating the start of the keynote.  The lights suddenly started flashing, music blared, and smoke appeared near the stage.  A musician appeared on stage playing a Gibson guitar (signed by both Bill Gates and Jeff Raikes) with Microsoft unified communications imagery plastered on it.  A video started playing on the center and side screens displaying images of strands.  The launching products (Office Communications Server 2007, Office Communicator 2007, Exchange Server 2007 SP1, Office Live Meeting, and RoundTable) were interspersed throughout the video.  As the video ended, the strands came together, signifying that the time to unify your communications is now.

Bill Gates then took the stage to share his thoughts on the future of communications and to usher in a new wave of enterprise VoIP and unified communications software and services.  Bill started by describing how the power of software would transform communications.  In the past, when you picked a PBX vendor, that was it.  If you wanted to move a single phone, it would cost $700 and require at least a week worth of lead-time.  Bill said, “People just accepted this as the way it was.”

Bill continued by saying we are starting to see a revolutionary change from the vertical to the horizontal.  You can now take a digital service and put it next to a PBX to take advantage of presence and other benefits of your PBX.  In the longer term, though, Bill envisions that the PBX will eventually disappear, and we will have 100% of our communications based on software.  Bill aptly stated that, “This is as profound as the shift from the typewriter to the PC.”

Jeff Raikes came on stage next and started by stating that users waste 37 minutes a day making calls to people who are not there.  Jeff said that this “adds up to 30 hours a year.”  Additionally, the average information worker receives almost 100 messages per day in up to seven different places.  This inundation of messages is overwhelming for the end users and costly for the IT departments to manage.

With innovations in networks and software, it is possible to reduce these issues by unifying the ways people communicate into a consistent software-based experience.  That is what we are delivering with Office Communications Server 2007, Office Communicator 2007, Office Live Meeting, Microsoft Roundtable, and a service pack update to Exchange Server 2007.

A few other points stuck out from Jeff’s speech:

  • More than 200,000 people are already using the new products we’re launching
  • Forrester Research recently completed a study on our early adopters, which concludes that the average company can realize a 500% ROI in three years.
  • Global Crossing found that systems with embedded UC improved employee response times by 80%.
  • More than 50 partners are announcing new products and services that build on our unified communications products

Eric Swift really brought home what both Bill and Jeff said by demonstrating the launching products.  I participated in the demo as one of the meeting participants.  It was great to be a part of one of Bill’s last Microsoft speeches.

If you were unable to attend the keynote, you can view the streaming video: 100K | 300K | 750K.  I would also encourage you to read Bill Gates’ executive email to customers, which outlines his vision for software-powered communications technologies.

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