NEC joins Microsoft’s unified communications coming out party

* NEC extends its relationship with Microsoft

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Joining in Microsoft’s unified communications launch last week, NEC announced that it is enhancing its portfolio with new products and services along with further support for Microsoft’s unified communications software.

NEC’s enhancements include a USB handset, collaboration middleware, and media gateway, “all of which will be optimized for use with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft Office Communicator 2007,” according to the company’s statement.

When we spoke to Paul Lopez, NEC’s general manager for marketing and unified solutions, he said that the development is “a natural continuation of a 28-year relationship [that NEC has had] with Microsoft” noting that NEC “is the No. 1 [market] share leader of Microsoft products in Japan.”

Like many of the other Microsoft partners, NEC already has a unified communications portfolio, but, according to Lopez, “This give the customer a choice that includes a desktop softphone, a USB softphone, [and a] pure IP or gateway environment.”

NEC had previously announced support for Microsoft’s Live Communications Server (LCS) environment in March of this year; the company’s announcement last adds Microsoft Office Communications Server (OCS). These new products and services will be offered by NEC in the United States, Europe, and Asia Pacific regions and will provide customers with one source for complete integration of Microsoft and NEC environments.

The new products include:

* Basic Media Gateway: NEC’s MGW for Microsoft Office Communicator provides the PSTN/ISDN inter-connection functions to OCS 2007. It also works as a gateway by providing the VoIP connectivity to an existing PBX and KTS for the Microsoft Office Communication Server 2007.

* Univerge OW5000: Collaboration middleware that enables customers connected to NEC’s PBX and Microsoft’s Office Communications Server 2007 to use remote call control from Microsoft Office applications such as Outlook and Excel.

* USB Handset which can be plugged directly into a USB port, enabling the high-quality wideband voice input and output capabilities of a standard desktop phone for Microsoft Office Communicator 2007.

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