Bob Muglia's opening keynote at TechEd yesterday in New Orleans focused on various aspects of cloud computing, but there was a healthy dose of messaging-specific news scattered in amongst it all. Microsoft is using the conference to debut the full feature set of Microsoft Communications Server "14," which should be shipping later this year. There was also a demo of new collaboration features enabled with Windows Phone 7. And you probably know by now about the release of the beta for Exchange Server 2010 SP1.
Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president for Microsoft's Office Communications Group, demoed Communications Server "14" (and the use of quotation marks seems to indicate that this isn't the final, shipping name of the product; Communications Server 2010, anyone?). "Communication Server '14' is integrated deeply into Office, SharePoint, and Exchange," Pall said. "The whole experience is a lot more social." So, the Communicator contacts screen will feature pictures—pulled from SharePoint—instead of traditional presence jelly beans. There's also a new Facebook-like Activity Feed that will show notes or status changes. Social, indeed.
Pall also highlighted the fact that Communications Server "14" is a complete softphone, which includes video capability, with the potential of big cost-savings for companies that implement this method over traditional PBXs. You can find a complete list of What's New? in Communications Server "14" on Microsoft's website. And you can view Pall's portion of the Keynote Day 1 video at about 46:30 into the presentation.
The other highlight for messaging admins in the TechEd keynote was the demo of Windows Phone 7 and its integration with SharePoint. Although it's the consumer-oriented features that have so far gained all the attention, it seems Microsoft's new phone platform really will be geared toward business use and productivity. The demo showed the ease of working with Office documents through SharePoint, making updates and receiving updates made by other users.
"One of the things that I think is most interesting and important in a business environment is the integration with your business systems and in particular with your Office environment," Muglia said following the demonstration. Windows Phone 7 will provide "full-fidelity Excel documents, Word documents—basically a portable phone version of the Office suite available for you, and you can really work with those documents and see them in a new way like really doesn't exist on any other portable phone platform." You can see the Windows Phone 7 portion of the Keynote Day 1 video beginning at about 59:00 into the presentation.
In addition to Microsoft news, many third-party vendors use TechEd as a time to debut their latest and greatest. I'll bring you some of that news in the next day or so. In the meantime, I'd be interested to hear from you about what you see as the biggest news out of the show so far or the biggest surprise you've seen. Leave a comment or send me an email to let me know.