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VoIP Just a Tool for Presence

Microsoft's strong moves into VoIP are less about telephony and more about presence. Today the most common form of presence is the status box in an IM client. Microsoft aims to make presence information available across a variety of platforms, including IM, voice and within applications such as calendars and Outlook.

In Microsoft's grand vision, Alice will open Outlook to find Bob's e-mail address, and then mouse over that address to get presence status. Alice can then initiate some form communication (such as a VoIP call) right from Outlook.

By linking VoIP to its Office suite, Microsoft takes direct aim at Cisco's Unified Personal Communicator (UPC), a desktop software client that combines presence with voice, video, IM and other communications applications. By building presence-based communications functions into its widely deployed business apps, Microsoft makes UPC irrelevant—at least for Office-centric enterprises.

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