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Microsoft made waves at last year’s VoiceCon because it was such a newbie in the voice business. It grabbed lots of headlines in 2010 with its Lync (formerly codenamed “14”) release. The Redmond Giant was the company many other exhibitors love to hate. Who can blame them? Nobody — certainly not the Avayas and Siemens of the world — would’ve thought a software company becoming a considerable threat in their telecom market. That’s why it’s always a treat to see Microsoft’s keynote.
Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate VP Office Business Productivity Group, had the honor to keynote at Enterprise Connect. As expected the keynote centered around Microsoft Lync and its capabilities (of course, with the obligatory kick-off video filled with scenes similar to Minority Report technology). But a few things really stood out with this year’s presentation.
First, Koenigsbauer’s role at Microsoft encompasses a spectrum of products: Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, etc. It’s very likely that this man determined how you did your work in the office today and everyday. One of the main selling points of Lync is the tight and seamless integration with all the other Microsoft software that’s prominent in the workplace.
Second, during the demo Koenigsbauer and his team had set up a Kinect game console for use with Lync. The Kinect was hooked up to the widescreen TV, and using VideoKinect he was able to conduct a Lync video conference. The Kinect’s one of the company’s best selling hardware and sort of one-upped Nintendo’s Wii in the whole motion-detection game market. But the VideoKinect demo was very intriguing because it can be the teleworker’s telepresence setup. With all the talk about the consumerization of IT, here was Microsoft bravely treading the water to embrace and leverage the success of Kinect in a business video use case.
Third, the company is coming out with the iLync client for the Apple iOS platform and plans to support all the major mobile platforms going forward — Nokia Symbian, RIM BlackBerry, Google Android, and Windows Phone 7 — possibly all by the end of this year. The demo with an iPhone went smoothly, but I thought Koenigsbauer should’ve gone with a WP7 first then perhaps with an iPhone. Many folks disagreed with me on this, however, and thought that I was being too anti-Microsoft. I know I’m an Apple fanboy, but my thinking was more about Microsoft’s marketing and branding. I applaud Microsoft for supporting other mobile platforms and this demo got that message across, but from a marketing presentation standpoint, imagine an even stronger message had the demo started off with iLync on WP7. That would’ve reinforced Microsoft’s commitment to WP7 as a powerful prosumer smartphone in light of all the negative publicity about the WP7’s lackluster sales. Some audience members may even have considered WP7 then if they’re on the fence about getting the next smartphone. And to top it off after a WP7 show and tell — sort of like a Jobs-ique “One more thing” — demo iLync on the iPhone. The crowd would’ve gone wild.