Microsoft Previews Next-Gen Office Communications Server

Microsoft has released the preview version of its next generation Office Communications Server, renaming it as Microsoft Lync.

According to the company, the full version of the unified communications software will be released by the end of this year.

Microsoft explained that the new software will integrate IP telephone calls with video conferencing and instant messaging, allowing users to access multiple channels of communication from a single platform.

Microsoft Lync will support other Microsoft software, including Office 2010, Exchange 2010 and SharePoint 2010, to allow enterprise users to access their e-mail, calenders and data from a single, unified platform.

Kirk Gregersen, a senior director at Microsoft, wrote on the blog: “With nearly 20,000 people inside Microsoft and more than 100 enterprise customers already using the Lync 2010 beta, the R&D team is on track to deliver the product to market before the end of the year.”

Micrisoft Lync will allow users to switch from headsets on a laptop to a speakerphone using a device switching technology, and let them make group calls directly from the contact list.