Friday, May 27, 2005

Analyst: Microsoft Pursuing Dominance of VoIP

Leonardo Faoro - The VoIP Weblog

Just when you thought the perennially late-to-the-party Microsoft might actually be staying out of the nascent VoIP industry, out come a new edition of Sharepoint Server and Speech Server, both indicators of a just-below-the-surface strategy that appears to have IP telephony at its heart.

Of course, this isn’t (yet) a direct encroachment on Cisco, Avaya, or Microsoft’s partner, Alcatel. Indeed, Microsoft’s official position on VoIP, which is, more or less, “build a framework for realtime communications to enable IP telephony”, seems like more of a distant aspiration than an incantation of Microsoft’s achievements in VoIP. That’s because Microsoft has done very little to advance the technology, relying instead (as MS often does) on early, heavy-investing startups who’ve already blazed the trails, taken the risks, and perfected the application of a new technology…

...only to scoop them up in bargain buyouts and move to checkmate the rest of the industry by applying an un-matchable financial commitment to their new acquisitions. This is Microsoft’s admirable and formidable tactic, and it could conceivably work with VoIP, just as it worked with Web Browsers, database systems, operating systems, etc. The linked article contains a piece written by Tom’s Hardware that professes this same idea—that Microsoft is moving the proverbial pieces around and could eventually dominate the telecom business.

The theory has two things going against it, though. First, Cisco is so far ahead of Microsoft in this space that even Uncle Bill must question the wisdom of trying to go head to head with a company that, up till now, has done nothing but help Microsoft’s business. Second, regardless of Microsoft’s passion for real-time networking, until they get their security issues put to bed, people will think twice about buying a telephone network solution from Redmond. (This is the chief reason why people considering Cisco CallManager, which uses Windows Server, opt not to implement it.)

What do you think? Does Microsoft have the nads to push into the telecom industry, or will they just continue to dabble with things like Speech Server and MSN Messenger?


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