Microsoft officially launched the latest generation of its unified communications server Wednesday with a gala rollout event in New York that was webcast around the world.
At the same time, Microsoft gave PBX makers fair warning that their market is threatened.
Now officially dubbed Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) Lync Server 2010, the product was renamed from Office Communications Server "14" in mid-September. Besides rebranding, though, Lync Server 2010 adds several significant new features for both IT administrators and end users, according to the executive in charge.
"This is the first version to provide full-blown telephony support [so customers] can completely replace their PBXes," Chris Capossela, a senior vice president in the Microsoft Office Division, told InternetNews.com.
"The age of the PBX is over," he added.
Capossela also touted other changes the company has made to Lync, such as moves to simplify the user interface. For instance, switching from one communications device to another -- say, from a PC to a smartphone -- can be accomplished with a single click.
Another simplicity feature is automatic updating of users' presence information that is, whether a party is busy or not. Moreover, the Lync client supports pictures of callers and co-workers.
"It makes the whole experience far more social and personal," Capossela said.
Lync can be accessed via either a feature phone or a smartphone with a browser.
"We're bringing instant messaging and presence together with audio conferencing, video conferencing, and Web conferencing -- which you can do just with your PC or with a browser. At the same time, Microsoft is also working on Lync clients for Windows Phone 7, Nokia phones and iPhones," Capossela said during his launch keynote.
A customer-hosted edition of Lync will be available for sale as of Dec. 1, in 38 languages and 150 countries, he added.
It will also be a component of Office 365 -- Microsoft's cloud-based enterprise software subscription service, announced last month -- when it becomes available in 2011.
Office 365 is basically an updated version of the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), which provides Microsoft-hosted editions of Exchange 2010 Online, SharePoint 2010 Online, and soon Lync 2010 Online via the cloud. Office 365, also adds the recently released Office Web Apps to the mix.
Capossela also provided a demonstration of Lync's video conferencing capabilities when Microsoft chairman Bill Gates called New York from his foundation's offices in Seattle and the two conversed in high-definition on a big screen.
Lync Server also includes improvements to deployment and management tools, company statements said.
Further information, including pricing and licensing information, is available online.