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Microsoft, Qwest, Sylantro Bring Voice To The Desktop

BOSTON -- Microsoft is extending its Office telephony integration to small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) with a new product that integrates hosted VoIP, presence, email, and collaboration.

Initially available only through Qwest Communications and only with the Sylantro Applications Feature Server, Microsoft expects to integrate with additional VoIP platforms and service providers in the near future.

The Microsoft Solution for Enhanced VoIP services provides SMBs with a hosted version of Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 and Windows SharePoint Services, according to the company. Qwest has licensed these products under Microsoft’s Service Provider License Agreement, which enables Qwest to pay on a per subscriber, per month basis. Microsoft has developed provisioning and management applications to aid service providers like Qwest in deploying these hosted applications in a multi-tenant Software as a Service (SaaS) environment, Microsoft said.

In addition, Sylantro and Microsoft have worked together to combine these hosted services with Sylantro’s hosted VoIP service, which Qwest has been marketing for the past year under the OneFlex brand name. Sylantro has written a custom call-control interface and Microsoft has developed an extension to Office Communicator to support VoIP call handling, the companies said.

Just as in popular consumer instant messaging applications, Office Communicator allows users to see whether other users are logged in, to see their availability, and provides a text chat tool, Microsoft said. With VoIP integration, Communicator is extended in three ways -- a user’s availability is automatically changed to “On Call” when the user picks up the phone and changed back when the user hangs up; call control features are provided from within the Windows desktop including dialing, forwarding, hold, and 3-way calling; and a user can view information about a caller and choose how to handle a call including answering, diverting to voice mail or to another number such as a cell phone. The solution is also integrated with Active Directory so that users can dial directly from Outlook address book entries.

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