As always with a new Microsoft (News - Alert) product, there is plenty of hype surrounding the launch. Think back three years to the launch of OCS, which was surrounded by not only volumes of media attention around Microsoft, but a preponderance of related announcements from communications technology vendors touting their support of OCS, which was supposed to be the greatest thing to hit the communications market since the introduction of VoIP.
Despite the adoption of OCS and its subsequent releases, it certainly hasn’t lived up to its billing as the PBX (News - Alert) killer. It’s partially a function of challenges with OCS, but also due to the fact that migration from hardware-based communications systems to software-only requires a solid strategy and the right timing. Now with its official launch of Microsoft Lync 2010, the newest and renamed version of its unified communication platform, Microsoft is again making claims of being on the verge of laying the PBX to rest, at least as a fundamental part of the communications picture.
Whether that happens remains to be seen – the Redmond, Washington company’s products, as successful and widely adopted as they have been, also carry a certain stigma of support requirements and bugs, which, at the very least, leaves one questioning whether Lync can be a more dangerous predator to PBX vendors than its predecessor.
Nevertheless, assuming a reasonable level of adoption – the Microsoft brand also creates a unique curiosity among IT managers looking to give its products a try – this release will also be accompanied by a host of vendor announcements promoting their integration with Lync. And, the one thing Lync has going for it is it does include a number of enhancements over OCS, and further drives home the idea of a PBX-less unified communications solution in an era where software running on standard servers is quickly becoming the norm, over proprietary hardware.
Rich Tehrani (News - Alert) was in New York for a demo, and details many of the enhancements here and says, after a day of working with it, that Lync is, in fact a significant improvement over OCS. “The holy grail of being able to instantly conference and collaborate via a myriad of applications may actually be here now,” he writes.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise Plantronics (News - Alert), a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, has been among the first to announce it support for the Lync platform with three new headsets optimized for MS Lync 2010: its Calisto 825, Savi 730 and Voyager PRO UC.
The idea behind a true unified communications solution, of course, is that simple and instantaneous communication via any device from anywhere that Tehrani eludes to, and which has been the mantra of the entire unified communications industry since October, 2007, when OCS was first released.
In order to achieve that, in either a mobile or office environment, headsets, such as those Plantronics offers, are a necessity.
“Plantronics understands the Microsoft vision of a distributed, yet constantly connected, workforce,” said Kirk Gregerson, senior director of product management, Microsoft Link. “Plantronics’ suite of devices optimized for Lync 2010 provides great audio and simplicity, ensuring end-users maximize the benefits of voice and video communications through Lync.”
The Plantronics Voyager PRO UC, an enhanced version of a Bluetooth headset that has been on the market for a while now, pairs easily with PCs and mobile devices, offering a lightweight, comfortable and flexible headset with high sound quality. Anyone that has used the Voyager PRO can expect more of the same, with a few enhancements, such as smart sensor technology that allows calls to be answered by simply placing the headset in the ear, while also updating presence information to indicate the user is on a call. It also comes with a handy USB Bluetooth adapter for those PC or laptop users without integrated Bluetooth, and allows switching from mobile phones to PC calls at the touch of a button.
The Calisto 825 (pictured left) similarly manages calls between mobile devices and PCs, providing a speakerphone alternative for those users who prefer to work without a headset, or need the flexibility of including others in conference settings.
The Savi (pictured right) is a wireless DECT also connects to PCs and mobile phones, but adds connectivity to deskphones, which, despite a growing use of softphones, aren’t going to become extinct anytime soon. With a range of some 350 feet, the SAVI, which mirrors the CS70N in design, provides maximum freedom to roam within an office environment while maintaining connectivity to the communications system.
Finally, for contact center deployment, or for other users that don’t require the mobility features of wireless headsets, the Blackwire 420 offers a corded alternative, with inline call and volume controls, as well as stereo sound for listening to music.
When it comes right down to it, Plantronics has a long heritage of offering quality headsets to both business and consumer communities, and these latest versions won’t be any different. And, regardless of whether or how quickly Lync 2010 gains prominence as a UC platform, it will see significant adoption based on its brand alone, making the introduction of a Lync-optimized line a logical move for the company.
Erik Linask (News - Alert) is Group Editorial Director of TMC, which brings news and compelling feature articles, podcasts, and videos to 2,000,000 visitors each month. To see more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Erik Linask