Microsoft gets ready for Paris

New developer tools and unified communications priorities revealed for the next versions of Microsoft’s main communication server products.

Microsoft Exchange

Alongside Microsoft's push into the world of cloud computing, the company is pressing ahead with updates and feature upgrades in many of its key back office server applications.

The company today revealed not only a new set of developer tools, but also revealed more details about Paris, the codename for its next generation communications server platform which is currently in development. Paris will provide a set of APIs to enable you to embed immersive communications experiences in your own applications, making use of Microsoft's unified communications technologies.

The new Office Communicator R2 SDK adds new tools and functionality with focus on presence, one-click communication and dialling, along with context-sensitive application.

For example, initiating an internal call from within your R2-enabled application would ensure that the same application, web page or display appeared on the screen of the colleague you called, allowing you both to view and discuss the same thing.

Office Communications Server 2007 R2 is in beta now with a view to launching in early 2009. The next version will the follow some time in 2010.

There is also a new version of the Unified Communications Managed API (UCMA). Version two of UCMA now has support for improved presence, voice telecoms and multi-user conferencing. The new features of the API can be used for automated call distribution, web and SMS gateways as well as bespoke conferencing applications.

"We have made a number of important enhancements to make developing for Office Communicator and Exchange easier and more productive," said Chris Mayo, a unified communications technical evangelist at Microsoft, during the company's Professional Developer Conference in Los Angeles.

One of the key things that Microsoft is trying to improve on is mobility and so-called "anywhere access". Improvements in R2 will make it easier for developers to create mobile applications that will tap into the UCMA API, enabling remote workers to remain in the communications loop during a normal working day regardless for whether they are within the core network.

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