Microsoft Office Communication Server: Friend or Mortal Enemy to the Windows PBX?

Is Microsoft Office Communication Server a friend or mortal enemy to Windows phone system vendors?

3CX CEO, Nick Galea, noted that his company will not support integrations to OCS because it is essentially a competing product. "3CX sees OCS as a competitor and there are no plans to integrate with OCS. We are already going head to head with OCS and I believe we have a more appealing solution in many ways..." noted Nick Galea in a 3CX forum post on Oct 14, 2009.
Read More 3CX has added the 3CX Call Assistant to the 3CX Phone System which adds basic instant messaging capabilities along with PC call control, eliminating the need for another instant message server in a small organization.

ObjectWorld Communications makes a unified communication system that integrates tightly with Active Directory, features ODBC connected IVR and has a very mature software operator panel "while still costing less than providing employees with coffee service" says marketing director Vincent Guihan in a Channel Insider article. On OCS Guihan says, "Microsoft OCS is targeted for a desktop productivity play and is very useful for large organizations whose employees need to work more effectively with each other. Objectworld’s channel partners are focused more on customers who need end-to-end services that are more basic and allow them to work with external customers, like voice mail and fax capabilities." Read More

pbxnsip, an IP PBX vendor who makes a software based phone system that runs on Windows as well as Linux and Mac, notes that "pbxnsip & OCS have been tested and are interoperable". Read More. pbxnsip also provides a WIKI article that gives detailed instructions on integrating the two products and has an official forum dedicated to OCS/pbxnsip integration. Microsoft GOLD Partner ItACS says "pbxnsip and OCS is a great combination, especially for the small to medium sized business..." Kevin Moroz, CEO of pbxnsip noted "pbxnsip acknowledges that OCS is heading towards becoming a PBX but they are in different markets. OCS is geared more towards the enterprise market at this time. " He went on to say "Communication solutions is a big market and there is room for both of us. We see it as essential to make sure we interoperate with Microsoft products such as OCS and Exchange Server UM."

Christian Stredicke, CEO of SNOM says "OCS is the future..." .SNOM, maker of SIP based phone handsets, now has OCS enabled their entire line of SIP phones. Snom phones can connect to a SIP pbx at the same time as OCS providing traditional phone features as well as OCS's advanced instant messaging, presence, directory and Windows Mobile reach.

What is my opinion? I really think at the moment OCS is aimed at much bigger organizations than most of the listed ip pbx vendors so probably not a mortal enemy right now. Also all of the listed pbx vendors provide more traditional telephone system features many small to medium companies still want right now. What if OCS Small Business Edition was released? (my blog post on OCS "SBE") Ahem. I still think they would need to add quite a few telephone system features to make it compelling for the SMB market.
You can read more of my thots on my entire blog post on "Is OCS becoming a PBX?".

Is OCS the evil, malevolent giant that is out to crush traditional & Windows based phone systems? Can Windows PBX vendors survive? What do you think?

Kerry Garrison: How to Speed Up PBX Deployments

The 3CX Call Assistant Quick Video Review

3CX delivers a nice tool to watch and control call status on the Windows 3CX Phone System. Has an easy to use and pleasing to look at graphical user interface and even includes a basic instant message client!

Check out this 3 minute review of the 3CX Call Assistant

Snom 820 & 870 Wireless Functionality Tested With Windows 7

Snom is once again keeping up with the latest technology by ensuring their Snom 8xx USB Wireless stick works with Windows 7. The snom 8xx is quite a phone: Wifi capability, 1GB pass through ports (870) and nice big color screen for a reason price.

It's The Holiday Season & pbxnsip Will Help You Blast Your Co-Workers With VM Seasons Greetings Messages!

First, setup a hunt group (such as 399) which has all the extensions you want to distribute the message to in "Stage 1" (such as 301 302 303)

Now pickup your own phone, press the Voicemail retrieve button, dial 5 then record the message you want to distribute and press # when done.

Next press 2 to copy this message, dial the extension (399) and ## and your done!

(You could also have dialed the specific extensions you wanted to send the message to. Wow!)

Wow, that it efficient and slick! Now you can blast you co-workers with Season’s Greetings each morning with efficiency!

My Quick Review of the 3CX Soft Phone Version 4

3CX came out with a new revision of their widely used softphone in August and I did a quick review of it. I'm impressed with the user interface. It can handle 3 call appearances, hold, mute and most other softphone features. Well, just watch the review. (sorry about the low volume...)

A New Tool to Test Your ISP VoIP Capabilities:

It's still in BETA but this tool is a quick way to see if your ISP will do VoIP. Check it out at:

Looking for Free Music On Hold for Your Windows Phone System?

I was just at a prospect that wanted to replace an Avaya Partner system and was appalled that there was a box (that was bigger than the entire pbxnsip CS410 phone appliance!) to facilitate music on hold! One great feature of a PC based phone system is that you can just plop an .mp3 or .wav file in a folder a have music on hold! 3CX and pbxnsip Windows phone systems both allow this.

When I was attending the SMBNation session on ResponsePoint I'll admit I was surprised that you needed to plug a mp3 player into the RP phone system to get music on hold other than the default music.

Take a look at this royalty free music for your PC phone system:
(and gloat a little that you don't need a big music on hold player to use it! ;-)

Aastra Won't Abandon Response Point VARs & Users: Announces RP to SIP Firmware Upgrade

If you been watching Response Point at all you know that the future is uncertain. One of the great benefits of SIP standards based ip pbx's is that you are never left high and dry. Your pbx vendor goes belly up? No problem, just switch the pbx server and use your existing investment in phones and other hardware. The problem with RP is that is wasn't standards based--but thankfully Aastra is providing a firmware to make their phones be standard SIP. This is a refreshing vendor move to say the least!

To read more about Aastra's SIP firmward upgrade click here.

A Rugged WIFI SIP Phone for Warehouse

I just had a discussion about what a good rugged, warehouse suitable SIP phone would be and the MC50 & MC75 Windows Mobile handheld computers came up. A while ago I did a quick video review about the Symbol MC50 and SJLabs SIP Softphone for Windows Mobile and thought I would post it here if it is a benefit to anyone.

pbxnsip Attendant Console to Get New Features?

By the looks of this screen shot of pbxnsip's PAC (pbxnsip attendant console) there are new features in store for this software based call control application for the pbxnsip phone system!

pbxnsip has taken a different approach than vendors such as Asterisk and 3CX by writting the call control application as a web application instead of a Windows forms application. This means that it could be made to run on PC, MAC and Linux. One of the challenges of this method could be getting a smooth & visually pleasing user experience.

From my testing of the PAC doing tasks such as forwarding a call to a mobile phone is very straightforward. Another interesting feature is the built in Intant Message client.

To see the pbxnsip PAC definition page click here.

Microsoft OCS as a Phone System?

Microsoft keeps on working at making OCS a complete phone/communication system for businesses. They are making strides but for many companies they likely have a ways to go. Below is a very interesting article on companies that OCS may fit as a PBX right now: