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Microsoft unified communications to spearhead growth in FY08
[July 11, 2007]

Microsoft unified communications to spearhead growth in FY08

( Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) expects the upcoming launch of its new unified communications (UC) platform to drive at least 20% revenue growth for its Information Worker (IW) division in Latin America this fiscal year, IW regional director Felipe Snchez told BNamericas.

The Information Worker division, which focuses on enterprise solutions, saw 20% revenue growth in Latin America in fiscal 2007, ended June 30, compared to FY06. Typical IW products include Word, Office, Excel and Exchange Servers, and the division represents 35-40% of Microsoft's global revenues.

The UC platform will be the flagship component of the 2007 product versions to be launched in October and will replace Live Communications Server. On the back end is the Office Communications Server 2007, which is the infrastructure on which the services are offered, while at the front end is the Office Communicator, which includes applications such as chat, videoconferencing, VoIP and presence.

In parallel, the Live Meeting application will be updated with more interactive functionality, Snchez said, speaking on the sidelines of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver, Colorado, this week.

The key difference from what went before is that all will be unified on a single platform and accessible from any computer or mobile phone, the latter being linked via Windows Mobile. The new platform provides easier file manipulation, for example, dragging Excel documents and sending them to a user.

During a keynote presentation at the conference, IW corporate VP Chris Capossela demonstrated how users could click on an email in Microsoft Outlook and see the "presence" of the sender, such as whether they are busy or when they should be contacted.

A novelty with the updated Live Meeting is that it will be possible to install the platform "on-site" at a company instead of being hosted by Microsoft.

This offers new revenue opportunities for partners who will be able to host the platform themselves and resell it as a service to clients, Snchez said. And for the client, an on-site solution gives the company much more control over the meeting proceedings and greater security.

Microsoft has just sealed a contract with Mexican telecoms giant Telmex (NYSE: TMX) for Live Meeting and the company expects to launch the application as a service in September, ahead of the official Microsoft launch.

As regards challenges for adoption in Latin America, Snchez sees piracy as a key obstacle and also economic instability.

However, the company is working on a program to introduce a student version of the UC platform at lower prices and is also working with governments on education about piracy.

Snchez is optimistic about the business prospects for UC as in Latin America the need for mobility and unified communications is just as great as anywhere.

Mobile telephony has taken over fixed line services, while broadband and laptop penetration are rapidly increasing.

"Internet penetration used to be a barrier, but not any more," Snchez said.

Copyright 2006

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