Microsoft today formally announced Lync, it's next generation of Office Communication Server (formerly known as OCS 14). Once again Microsoft declared that Lync means the death of the PBX. Now that Lync supports E911 with location detection, enterprises may take that declaration more seriously.
Microsoft says its software approach bests Cisco's network approach because users can mix and match hardware from a variety of vendors, rather than buying it all from one vendor, a la Cisco's strategy. Not surprisingly, Microsoft doesn't allow users to mix and match much software. It requires Windows Server and Microsoft SQL Server for basic functions. To get the most out of Lync, you'll need to use Microsoft Office, Exchange and Windows Live Messenger.
Microsoft promises that Lync will be a less expensive unified communications tool than network-based options, particularly Cisco's. With a base price of $4,000 for the enterprise version of Lync plus per user licenses of about $100 apiece, among other software licensing costs, it may indeed be less expensive, but validating TCO will take a bit of work.
Here's a round up of stories on Network World covering the news.