Greetings from the snowed-in show floor of VoiceCon 2003, an industry trade show with a focus on voice over IP. All the major players were present at the Washington, D.C., event, including one you might not normally think of when you consider voice applications - Microsoft.We'd like to give our unofficial "cool demo of the show" nod to Microsoft. During its keynote presentation, Microsoft showed how to successfully integrate speech recognition with common directories to place a phone call using VoIP. What's cool is that these "voice" applications came from a historically data-focused company.Individually, each of these technologies has been around for some time. But the fact that Microsoft has thrown its full support behind integrating voice applications onto computing systems furthers our observation that VoIP isn't just about toll bypass.It also shows that you don't have to commit to a particular hardware-based system to offer applications convergence. In fact, Microsoft has committed to a product strategy that offers integral voice and other converged communications services built into Windows XP, Windows CE, .Net devices, and (coming soon) into Windows 2003 (NT-based) operating systems.Microsoft is offering full support of Session Initiation Protocol and XML, both of which enable third-party development of interfaces and applications that can personalize support for individual and vertical industry requirements. Microsoft has even published its XML extensions to ease development of these further applications. Showing how these applications can be integrated into multivendor environments, the Microsoft exhibit demonstrated interoperability with systems supplied by traditional telco-centric companies like Siemens and Nortel.While the phone system suppliers have been dabbling in converged data applications for several years now, we're excited about the possibilities on the flip side, and we'll be watching for more exciting developments by data players in the future.