Version 8.5 was announced and is orderable since December 2010, although the data sheet is not up yet, there are a few new features that can and should be mentioned about it. It is not the most exciting version that has been announced, the new features are more administrators then users facing.
Here is a list of the important ones (at least in my humble opinion):
CUMA (Cisco Unified Mobility Advantage) which is the mobile phone client option is now supported on Call Manager and does not require a dedicated server. Just like they did with the mobility in version 6.0.
The Bulk Admin Tool (BAT) was enhanced to support additional device types, one that is important for Single Number Reach configuration is the 'User Device Profile' and there are more.
HTTP instead of TFTP for the 89xx and the 99xx phone models was made available; this can help since a tcp-based protocol will make the phone load its firmware and config faster.
SIP Trunk Early Offer is supported in version 8.5 without the need for MTP. Since MTP require more CPU resources on the server side, this is a performance/scalability enhancing feature.
- Video support was enhanced to include more H.264 features, asymmetric video streams, mid call codec parameters change and more.
- Additional servers hardware models are supported, such as the MCS 7816/25/28-I5 (IBM x3250-M3 based) and the UCS newer servers (UCS M2).
There are other features, which will probably be described in the datasheet, once it is published. I tested this version by upgrading 7.1.3 system and the upgrade was simple and smooth, could not try the clean install so I cannot comments on that process vs. the previous one.
Should you upgrade? If running 4.x/5.x or 6.x then go straight to 8.5 but if you already run 8.0 and does not require anything major from the new features then perhaps you should wait a little longer for bugs to surface.
Unity connection 8.5 had a little more exiting new features, but that will wait for a future post.