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Microsoft's Unified Communications Suite: Will It Blend?

Road warriors, be alert: Microsoft's army of communication evangelists is coming for you, armed "with a duffle bag full of unified voice, video, and data communications products."Mobile workers at midsize companies will be the first line of targets in Microsoft's unified communications onslaught. They will be hit with an arsenal of products that includes Communications Server 2007, Office Communicator 2007, and Microsoft Live Meeting.

With this suite of products designed to link e-mail, instant messaging, and phone systems, Microsoft hopes to lure businesses slowly away from conventional PBX and TDM phone systems to an Internet-protocol, software-based communications future. Mwahaha.

A victory for Microsoft in this sector has the potential to disrupt the current voice services landscape dominated by competitors Cisco and Avaya. And disruption is what Bill Gates is promising -- say goodbye to VoIP as you know it -- is what he basically told CRN.

The reality, of course, will be somewhat messy, as we know from seeing other objects thrown into a duffel bag -- or a blender -- and whirred to a fare-thee-well.