November 18, 2010, 10:23 AM — Microsoft says its renamed unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) platform - Lync - is ready to replace corporate PBXs, generating savings by centralizing call control and other phone features to reduce the number of devices that need to be maintained.
That is perhaps the boldest claim Microsoft made during its formal launch today of Lync 2010, the next version of what used to be called Office Communications Server 2007, the UC&C software that is tied in closely with Microsoft's workplace applications Office, SharePoint and Exchange.
Lync supports E911 systems by proving information about where a person using the phone system is located, just one element of the presence information shared via Lync, says Gurdeep Singh Pall, Microsoft corporate vice president for Office, Lync and speech. Lack of this feature was a major obstacle to using Microsoft's UC&C platform as a PBX replacement, but no more.
He also pointed to support for a survivable branch office appliance that reconnects branches to the public phone network if the link to the central Lync server in a data center is lost. It also maintains local VoIP dialing and voicemail until the connection to the main server is restored. This, too, had been a major gap in Microsoft's telephony platform keeping it from challenging PBXs. But Pall says all that has changed. "The era of the PBX, folks, is over," he says.
During the announcement, he highlighted the importance of partners to provide hardware that enables some of the features - audio and video conferencing gear, PCs and laptops, phones and wireless headsets. Microsoft is issuing certifications that these devices meet Lync standards and are plug-and-play. The certifications mean the devices support appropriate audio and video standards to ensure end users get the experience Microsoft intends with Lync, he says.
Lync support in these devices will allow, for example, a certified desk phone to switch and drop a connection to a wireless device in mid call without disrupting the conversation, he says. Microsoft says it will have a Lync client for Windows Mobile phones and iPhones next year.