PDC 2008 Wrap Up

I think we can all agree that the PDC 2008 was pretty special. Azure, Windows 7, Office Web, Azure Services, Live Mesh..the list goes on. The sheer amount of information given out at these conferences often means that we miss bits that are interesting and/or pertinent to our jobs & lives (this was certainly the case when I was at the WPC in Houston!).

Fear not, as Mike Swanson over at MSDN Blogs has put together a wonderful collection of all the Keynotes and sessions, and where possible he’s included the Powerpoints and sample code!

Some of the sessions I’m glad to see are below. The main links go to the video on Channel9, the Powerpoint link will download the .pptx presentation.

A lap around the Azure Services Platform (Powerpoint)

Microsoft Office Communications Server & Exchange: Platform Futures (Powerpoint)

Office Communications Server R2: Enabling Unified Communications (Powerpoint)

Microsoft Silverlight 2 for Mobile: Developing for Mobile Devices (Powerpoint)

The whole, wonderful list can be found here. There are countless sessions on SQL, Azure, .NET, Windows 7 and more!

I really want to give a big thank you to Mike for doing this..there are sooo many sessions on there I didn’t know about that are really interesting and useful!

Microsoft OCS 2007 R2-Features Released

Microsoft OCS 2007 R2 has been officially announced today at VoiceCon over in Amsterdam.

R2 is classed as a “minor” release and will not go to public beta, but should be with us in December 2008 (so only a couple of months to wait).

Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division at Microsoft said “This new release puts Microsoft on a rapid path to deliver voice software that does much more than a network private branch exchange (PBX) and with much less cost.”

Key new features of Office Communications Server 2007 R2 include the following:

Next-Generation Collaboration

Dial-in audioconferencing. Office Communications Server 2007 R2 enables businesses to eliminate costly audioconferencing services with an on-premise audioconferencing bridge that is managed by IT as part of the overall communications infrastructure.
Desktop sharing. This feature enables users to seamlessly share their desktop, initiate audio communications and collaborate with others outside the organization on PC, Macintosh or Linux platforms through a Web-based interface.
Persistent group chat. This enables geographically dispersed teams to collaborate with each other by participating in topic-based discussions that persist over time. This application provides users with a list of all available chat rooms and topics, periodically archives discussions in an XML file format that meets compliance regulations, provides tools to search the entire history of discussion on a given topic, and offers filters and alerts to notify someone of new posts or topics on a particular topic.

Enhanced Voice and Mobility

Attendant console and delegation. This allows receptionists, team secretaries and others to manage calls and conferences on behalf of other users, set up workflows to route calls, and manage higher volumes of incoming communications through a software-based interface.
Session Initiation Protocol trunking. This feature enables businesses to reduce costs by setting up a direct VoIP connection between an Internet telephony service provider and Office Communicator 2007 without requiring on-premise gateways.
Response group.A workflow design application manages incoming calls based on user-configured rules (e.g., round-robin, longest idle, simultaneous), providing a simple-to-use basic engine for call treatment, routing and queuing.
Mobility and single-number reach. This extends Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile functionality to Nokia S40, Motorola RAZR, Blackberry and Windows Mobile platforms, allowing users to communicate using presence, IM and voice as an extension of their PBX from a unified client.*

New Developer Tools for Business Applications

APIs and Visual Studio integration. This improves the efficiency of everyday business processes by enabling businesses to build communications-enabled applications and embed communications into business applications.

* Blackberry client does not include Single Number Reach.

 OCS 2007 R2 has it’s official virtual launch on Feb. 3rd 2009 (03/02/09) and you can register to participate here.

 The word is that the OCS team will be sticking to a rough 2 year release cycle, which adds more weight to the Office 2010 release date.

I think that these new features make OCS an even more viable option in the workplace, especially for enterprises..I think the number of companies forgoing traditional PBX’s completely will increase as a result of this.

Mary Jo Foley over at ZDNet has got the full scoop here.

Microsoft Unified Communications Demo

Microsoft’s Unified Communications portfolio contains some brilliant products and when they’re all used together, the results are amazing. However one thing I know first hand is that an actual demo works infinitely better than any number of .ppt slides and presentations so courtesy of Technet Edge, here’s a demo of:

Exchange Server 2007, Office Communications Server 2007 and Roundtable

Microsoft Enterprise CALs

Microsoft Enterprise CALs are a relatively new addition to the world of MS licensing, and from conversations I’ve had at work, I know some people are a little unsure as to what they’re for, how they’re licensed etc.

Why have they made more CALs?

A lot of people viewed the addition of these extra CALs as a way for Microsoft to make more money and make life more difficult, but that’s not the case at all. The Enterprise CALs actually give organizations more flexibilty and help reduce wasted expenditure on software.

What do they do?

The Enterprise CALs offer an extended range of features over and above the Standard CAL; this can be thing such as Unified Messaging, Call Management or Excel Services. I’ll give a breakdown of the complete differences later in this post.

How are they licensed?

There are 2 main points to this and not everyone is aware of them.

1) The Enterprise CALs are Additive, which means you must have the Standard CAL as well in order to be correctly licensed. So Std CAL + ENt CAL = 🙂

2) You aren’t required to have the same number of Enterprise CALs as you have Standard CALs. For example, if a company has 500 workers who use Outlook, all 500 will need an Exchange Std CAL. However if only 46 of those need Unified Messaging (Voicemail in their inbox etc), you would need just 46 additive Enterprise CALs so 500 Std + 46 Ent = 🙂


Which products have Standard & Enterprise CALs?

Exchange 2007, Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 and Sharepoint Server (MOSS) 2007.

Here is an explanation as to the differences between the Std & Ent CALs for the products listed above:

Exchange 2007:

Standard CAL gives:

  • Email, Shared Calendars, contacts etc
  • Outlook Web Access (OWA)
  • ActiveSync
  • Managed E-Mail Folders (Default)

On top of that, the Enterprise CAL gives:

  • Advanced ActiveSync Policies (with Exchange 2007 SP1)
  • Unified Messaging – A single inbox for mail, voice and fax
  • Per User/Per distribution list journaling
  • Managed E-Mail Folders (Custom)

Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007:

Standard CAL gives:

  • Presence- Instantly find and communicate with fellow workers. Use presence to see people’s online status and initiate real-time conversations
  • Federation-Establish trusted relationships between your organization and others, allowing workers to communicate via IM (Instant Messaging)

On top of that, the Enterprise CAL offers:

  • Conferencing–Experience multi-party audio/video conferencing from within Microsoft Office Communicator.
    Meeting scheduling–Instantly establish ad-hoc meetings from a variety of Microsoft Office applications.
    Conduct online meetings–Use the power of the Live Meeting client to conduct conference meetings with participants inside and outside the organization with an on premise solution.
    VOIP capabilities: Software-powered VoIP that works with your existing messaging and telephony infrastructure and can adapt to your changing business needs.
    Call Management–Give users call management capabilities like call forwarding, hold, dynamic routing, and simultaneous ringing on all commonly used phones right from their desktop.

Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) 2007:

Standard CAL gives:

  • Content Management–Out-of-the-box workflows initiate, track, and report common business activities such as document review and approval, issue tracking, and signature collection.
  • Records Management–Record repository provides for the collecting, managing, and disposing of corporate records in a consistent and uniform manner based on the company’s policies.
  • Portal Site Management–Site Manager tools help personalize, deploy, and maintain portals using drag-and-drop capability.
  • Search–Extensible and customizable search of enterprise content and people.
  • Portals–Portal sites provide convenient starting points to connect your people to business-critical information, expertise, and applications.

On top of that, the Enterprise CAL gives:

  • Report Center–Broadly shares business data through personal or shared dashboards that include Microsoft Office Excel 2007 controls and key performance indicators.
  • Business Data Catalog–Discover more information through the ability to index business data and access it through your portal and search capabilities.
  • Excel Services–Help secure, manage, and control spreadsheets through a Web browser. Integrate Microsoft Office Excel as a part of your business intelligence infrastructure.
  • Forms Server–Enables the storage and organization of rich, dynamic server-based forms to gather, share, reuse, and manage information.




Microsoft OCS 2007 R2-New Version!

Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 is a great product..it really paves the way for a truly connected, more efficient, easier to live in world of business.

**Update** New features announced by Microsoft! See my post here

There will be a new version announced in November 2008 and released in January 2009, this will be Office Communications Server 2007 R2and one major difference will be it’s transition to a 64bit ONLY platform a la Exchange 2007. This version will transpose your voicemails to text so you can still access them even if in a meeting (or the quiet car of a train..) among other new features.

OCS 2007 R2 will also have more Telephony style features including the ability to hunt groups…

There will then be a completely new version-OCS 2009/2010 (probably 2010)-released to coincide with the availability of Office 14. This along with the expected release of Sharepoint 2010, will help bring a more unified feel to the Office family. It is also expected that this new version will contain inbuilt translation services so if you receive an email in say Spanish, Exchange can read it back to you in English 🙂

I’ve seen on The UC Guy’s blog via Mary Jo Foley’s post over at ZDNet that there are more new features expected in OCS 2007 R2 including:

“..a telephony queue system should be included, and will give people dialing in to the system, access to a touchtone menu to have their calls forwarded to the right department/person and so on.”

I can also say that there will be a Boss/Admin console..

Here are some links to my other OCS 2007 related posts:

Tanjay-OCS 2007 Phones

Unified Communications Demo

Video Demo of OCS 2007 R2 Features

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