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Windows PBX & UC: Looking back to 2010, Looking forward to 2011


What happened in the Windows phone system community in 2010? Some that occurred to me.:

Jan - Polycom Releases Affordable OCS/Lync Stand Alone Desk Phone
Jan - Free Blink SIP Softphone for Mac, Windows & Linux Introduced
Feb - First Windows-based Phonesystem Book Co-Authored by Matt Landis & Rob LLoyd
Mar - 3CX Phone System v9 Released
Mar - Interest in Hosted OCS/Lync Implementations Increases for SMB
May - Microsoft Response Point Killed: Not Hosted & Lync Will Serve SMB
June - snom Releases First DECT phone, paging device & SIP phone compatible with Lync

June- 3CX Releases Free iPhone and Android softphones
Sept - Lync Server 2010 Released
Sept - snom Releases Lync 2010 Compatible snom 300
Oct - snom ONE IP Phone System Released- 1st Free, Enterprise Grade Windows PBX
Nov - Windows Phone 7 Introduced (my experience with wp7)

What Are Some of My Predictions for 2011?

Microsoft Lync Will Gain Attention from SMB's in 2011
-SMB has zero entry resistance with Hosted Lync via Office365
-Hosted Lync 2010 via Office 365 has the right features with Public IM connectivity, Media outside firewall, Desktop Sharing and multi-person video and audio conferencing.
-Lync 2010 1 Server Installation has dramatically reduced cost & complexity
-Lync hardware devices have dropped to very affordable levels: snom 300 $129, Polycom CX500 $299.

snom ONE IP Phone System Will Continue to Capture Market Share from Other Windows PBX Players
-snom already is talking to this audience & has great connections to SMB via D&H/Asterisk awareness
-small companies are looking for bundled solution with "one neck to ring" at affordable price
-snom giving snom ONE with phones (10 extensions) will be a formidable foe for Windows PBX vendors that depend on revenue from the soft-pbx itself
-Can work effeciently in on premise or hosted mode today
-Great & easy replacement for problem prone systems from other vendors
-Very feature rich (good fit to replace small & medium sized legacy phone systems)
-Easiest phone provisioning in the industry: just plug the phone into the network!
-Extremely stable (enterprise grade)
-Multi-tenant and hosting ready today
-Extremely affordable

Windows Phone 7 Will Break Into the Conciousness of Non-IT People in 2011
-WP7 has a vast developer pool that is adding app's at astonishing rate with no slow-down in sight
-The Samsung Focus device 4rth top device in Wired Magazine best new devices of 2010
-Microsoft has an unlimited bucket of money and are in this to win. (think Xbox)
-WP7 pulling together Skydrive, Xbox, Office, Zune and more makes an extremely compelling device.
-While WP7 has some small technical catch up to do--the core design

Lync 2010 Awareness Will Push Traditional PhoneSystem Vendors to Integrate PBX & Handsets More Deeply into the Desktop Experience
-Currently no one knows how to use their deskphone's advanced features
-With Lync 2010 users can actually figure out how to use advanced endpoint features--other PBX user's will demand this as well
-Lync 2010 ubiquity in Sharepoint, CRM, ERP apps, Outlook will force other vendors to become part of the desktop experience more deeply than "click to dial"

Well there are my random thoughts about what will happen in 2011. Maybe you have some to add?

snom m9 Softphone for Windows - Quick Video Review #3cx #lync #snom



snom just can't get done "giving" in 2010! They've just released a free, Windows SIP softphone that makes a perfect companion for the snom ONE phonesystem (windows/mac/linux/sheevaplug). Using the snom ONE free (10 extensions)  with the new snom softhone makes it possible to deploy a nearly free PBX solution. While free pbx solution is not new, a free one that is enterprise grade sure is!

Whats There?
Well getting to the snom m9 softphone. It provides all the basic SIP phone capabilities one would expect: make and take calls, place calls on hold, DND and transfer calls. It uses the snom m9 management interface--which is a little interesting because of all the DECT features that show up that really do not apply to a softphone.

Whats Missing?
First, while this phone looks like an snom m9, it is not based on the snom m9 firmware and don't expect anything but simple SIP calls: no RSS feeds, XML apps, Lync compatibility, etc. And while the snom softphone has basic capabilities it does not have a lot of features that we all have come to expect will be on a softphone:

-Message Waiting Indicator
-Multi-Call handling
-Client based simple Conference 2 calls
-Click to dial, TEL: url dialing
-No busy lamp field or presence of other calls
-No definable function keys
-No video
-No SMS/IM'ing

It really is an initial release and shows somewhat. But it is a start to addressing the need for snom ONE to have a companion softphone. And to give snom a fair shake, this was brought to market very quickly!

snom ONE Phonesystem Tip #2: See New Features That Get Added to snom ONE Phone System


snom ONE is quite mature multiplatform phone system and includes most features right out of the box. It's stable, feature rich and secure. But when a new improvement makes it's way into the system you can find it by clicking the link below so you can make use of it!

Click below to see new features, bug fixes and
http://snomone.ideascale.com/a/ideafactory.do?id=11275&mode=complete&discussionFilter=active

Cisco SPA301 SIP Phone Video Review - The Cheapest SIP Phone In the World? PART 1



I'm on a quest to find the world's lowest priced enterprise grade SIP hardware phone! This search is leading to places...I mean...SIP phones, I don't normally glance at twice. But since we all have a project sometime or another were price is king, the "Cheapest SIP Phone in the World" blog/vlog series was born.

The first phone I decided to take a look at was the Cisco SPA301. In a world were mobile phone screens and deksphone screens seem to grow increasingly large with each iteration, it's amazing that a SIP deskphone/wallphone can survive at all with out ANY screen! ;-) That's right. That SPA301 has no screen. Scandalous I know. But how about a MSRP of $79? The cheapskate in all of us takes notice.

Only in this class of SIP phones is "Narrowest SIP phone I know off" a Con! ;-) Enjoy!


Pros:

-Cisco name
-Low cost
-Nice web interface
-Good handset feel
-Ringer on/off button
-Wall or desk mount
-Narrowest SIP phone I know off

Cons:
-no screen
-no POE
-no switch
-no transfer button
-Volume cycles instead of low / high rocker
-no speaker phone
-One led: Solid=MWI; Blinking=Ringing
-any settings related to sip registration requires a reboot;

-would be nice if there would be a key combination that announces IP address for initial setup

Oddities:
-Why is the LAN port is marked WAN?

Tips
-Press # after dialing a number will force SPA301 dial immediately.




Notes:
set volume of ringer using volume button.
Transfer and conference depend on your PBX features or star codes.
On snom ONE PBX the spa301 flash button puts calls on hold.

BREAKING NEWS: snom Releases Free Windows SIP Softphone



snom has just released a free, Windows, SIP softphone in an effort to provide a complete phone system solution. They now provide a completely free phone system along with SIP softphones. As always, I have commentary & opinions about this new solution but I'll hold that for another post. But you can go download and check out this new softphone right now.

How to use it:
http://wiki.snomone.com/index.php?title=The_snom_m9_softphone

Where to download it:
http://forum.pbxnsip.com/index.php?/topic/4140-snom-m9-soft-phone/page__pid__18038#entry18038

snom 821 SIP Deskphone First Impression Video Review: Color, Gigabit, Lync & Wifi Capable



The snom 821 is snom's answer to the Cisco SPA 525G class deskphone. The snom 820 is a very solid deskphone with the dial buttons feeling even better than the Cisco unit. Some of the outstanding features are compatibility with Microsoft Lync Server 2010, 12 Line Keys, 5 way local conference handling, and a built in gigabit switch.

Pros
-Lync firmware (No extra cost)
-HD voice
-solid unit
-Gigabit switch
-WIFI capable (you need to buy Wifi dongle)
-USB ports
-Free 10 Extension Windows/Mac/Linux Phone System Included! Click Here.

Cons
-Up/Down/Left/Right rocker feels a little mushy
-long boot time
-Ineffecient access to assignable buttons/BLF buttons?
-As of 12/20/2010 - No sidecard that shows BLF

Corrections to Video:
-"unlike the 870" (not 821)

Cisco SPA 525G Versus snom 821
Here is my quick comparison of the snom 821 Compared to Cisco 525G. The Cisco unit is approximately $100 more and gets you some interesting features: Bluetooth capability, 2.5 stereo headset jack and ability to view photos and play Mp3's. So if you want a multi-media device it looks like Cisco is catering to you.




Mobile Phone As a SIP Softphone--Does Anyone Even Use It?



Counterpath has released an "enterprise grade" SIP softphone for both iPhone and Android. 3CX has released a free SIP softphone for Android and now also for iPhone. The latest version of Android 2.3 apparently now has a SIP softphone (and videophone?) built into Android. (possibly making all the other products moot?) And Windows Phone 7 has a pretty nice Google Voice client and now there are even rumors that a coming update will add Voip calling to Windows Phone 7!


With all this buzz the big question is: Do people actually use their phones as a VOIP client? I decided to find out and did a survey of the geekiest of geeks and this is my finding: 23% of PBX admins actually use a SIP client day to day! Roughly (note that blogger.com's survey doesn't calculate accurately ;-) 75% either never use it or did it in a testing environment!

Soo maybe we don't even need a voip client for mobile devices...

Windows Phone 7 Passes 4000 Apps #wp7 #windowsphone


Windows Phone 7 marketplace apps pass 4000 applications. For a lot of stats about Windows Phone apps I suggest you take a look at the below website. It's a great place to checkout apps.

http://wp7applist.com/stats/

I largely have the apps I need. What are some I would like yet?
-Lync 2010 client
-SIP/Voip client
-App to make phone data available via WIFI to others
-Flashlight app that turns on the phone flash?

To see my complete thoughts about real life use of wp7:
http://windowspbx.blogspot.com/2010/11/windows-phone-7-is-cooler-than-i.html

Android 2.3 Gets Built-in SIP Client


According to Kevin Purdy over at Lifehacker.com, Android 2.3 is getting a SIP client built in. He says:
If you've got a SIP account set up, or your friends and contacts have SIP numbers, you can now make calls to and from those digital numbers through the Android phone without special software. As you might guess, though, carriers will likely have some control over this option.
If you don't have Android 2.3 you can always download 3CX's Android client. Although it's really hard to beat built in.

See Screenshots and more of Android 2.3 Here:
http://lifehacker.com/5707296/screenshot-tour-of-android-23-gingerbread-and-its-best-new-features

Okay, I'm not complaining here, but Windows Phone 7 team...you listening? ;-)

Patton Smartnode 4300 FXS Channel Bank Quick Review: Quality, No Frills Workhorse.

Patton has introduced a high density FXS channel bank.

Pros
-Patton quality voip gateway. Config and forget.
-free Patton Smartnode configuration tool for popular PBX's: http://bit.ly/dNseKt
-solid cast 19" mounting brackets
-Patton support 1st rate.

Cons
-one power LED is all there is. No booting status, channel status leds.
-Std 50pin telco plug required to actually plug in analogue phones
-web interface is not very intuitive
-Getting Started manual is (p6) is unclear (innacurate?) how the gateway is to be configured

Patton tends to go light on the frills, gui and graphics. Our experience has been they are serious workhorses that rarely give trouble.



Watch first impression video review of the Patton Smartnode 4300 24port FXS channel bank below.


Contact List Menu

Call
Dial this contact's phone number.

Call Voicemail
Call the contact's voicemail box to directly let a message.

Call Mobile
Call the mobile phone associated with this contact's PBX extension.

Intercom
Intercom this contact.

Tray Menu

Dialing Pad
Enter the phone number you want to dial in the field at the top of the menu. Press ENTER to dial.

My Status
Allows you to change your DND status. (Currently Available does not work)

Retrieve Voicemail
Play voicemail on your phone.

Show/Hide
This will show or hide the PBX client window so you can run in Tray Mode. This will save the setting so next time you run the PBX client it will remember this setting.

Quite
Close the PBX client.

Contact Screen

Number
The extension or phone number that you want to associate with this contact. Typically this is an extension, service flag, speed dial phone number etc.

Name
Description to identify this contact. Will display in the contact list.

Email
Email address you want to associate with this contact.

Setup Screen

Setup Screen

Server
Enter the IP address or domain name. Do not prefix it with http:// or suffix it with anything. Example: 192.168.1.10

User
This is the PBX extension number.

Password
This is the PBX SIP password.

Name
This is not required but will display a name on the main screen beside the avatar.

Presence Size
This is the width of the column that holds the presence icon.

Form Hidden
This determines if the PBX client run in Tray Mode only or with the client and Tray Mode.

Main Screen

Dial Pad
Type or copy a phone number into this field and press ENTER to dial a number.

Contact List
Right click on any contact to take an action on it.

Patton Provides Free PSTN Gateway Configuration Tool for snom ONE & pbxnsip Phone System


If you are a regular reader of my blog you know that I am a fan of Patton gateways. But I've come to realize that it's not only me but the whole Windows PBX community seems to prefer Patton PSTN gateways over the alternatives by a pretty big margin according to my Feb 2010 survey.

Why? Rock solid quality and mind blowing level of support! I can't stress enough how good Patton support is. Just today, once again, I was struck by Patton's unusally proactive and astonishing support. I was talking to Daniel Lizaola at Patton support about the trouble new snom ONE administrators are having configuring gateways for snom ONE/pbxnsip because there is no built-in gateway "configurator". (otherwise an incredible pbx--one you should not miss!) Daniel said he can email over a free configurator developed by Patton for snom ONE!

This tool will also configure FXS ports on the Patton gateways for snom ONE. Unfortunately at this moment snom is limiting non-snom devices. (2 for free, 5 for yellow and 10 for blue) I would really like to see Patton's FXS unit as an "allowed & unlimited" device on snom ONE. If you would want to see this too I suggest you vote for this feature here.

So checkout this tool which will save you hours of "fiddling" and I'd be glad for feedback via comments.

Click Here to Download the free snom ONE, pbxnsip, 3CX and Generic Patton PSTN Gateway configurator.

Click Here to Read all my articles on Patton gateways for IP PBX's.