chief executive Steve Ballmer announced the upcoming availability of Microsoft Office Communicator Mobile at 3GSM World Congress 2006.The new product will provide workers with the advantages of enterprise-grade, real-time collaboration capabilities for their mobile solutions.
Based on the user interface of the Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 desktop client, Communicator Mobile is a unified communications client that provides information workers with a premier mobile collaboration experience through native integration of mobile applications with enterprise-grade, real-time communications tools. The client goes beyond simple voice services, incorporating connected communication modes such as security-enhanced instant messaging (IM), presence awareness and integrated Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephony.
Gurdeep Pall, corporate vice president for the Unified Communications Group at Microsoft commented in a statement to the press: “The new client is a key component of Microsoft’s vision for unified communications, putting people at the center and enabling information workers to have access to real-time communications capabilities virtually anytime, anywhere, on any device.”
Cyrus Mewawalla, an analyst at Westhall Capital commented in The Business, London that VoIP, when backed by Microsoft, will have a more devastating effect on mobile operators than it did on the fixed-line operators, which saw their voice revenues slashed after the introduction of VoIP services such as Skype.
"Internet voice does not even have to take market share to force traditional operators to cut their prices. The mere thought of free voice is enough to make customers push for price cuts,” he said.
Communicator Mobile is expected to be available for download for Live Communication Server customers within 60 days .To use Communicator Mobile, customers need a Windows Mobile-based device running either Windows Mobile 2003 Second Edition or Windows Mobile 5.0 (Smartphone or Pocket PC Phone Edition)- Users will how ever need a data service plan through their mobile operator.
To use VoIP over Wi-Fi connections, a Windows Mobile 5.0 Pocket PC Phone Edition device is required.
Office Live Communications Server System will require Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 SP1 for use over a mobile data network or outside of a corporate network, the Live Communications Server 2005 infrastructure must be published appropriately on the Internet.
Peter Erskine, chief executive of O2, told The Business: "This is not the first time Microsoft has tried to enter the mobile market and they still have a very long way to go."
He also told the newspaper that because Microsoft's service runs on a mobile version of Office, its appeal initially will be to business users rather than private consumers.
Anuradha Shukla is a contributing writer for TMCnet covering call centers, CRM and information technology.