Joshua Hoffman

Against the backdrop of all recorded history, one can't help but be amazed by the progress humanity has seen the last two centuries. From the light bulb to the automobile to the Internet, our world has witnessed revolutionary innovation at a pace remarkable relative to the past. There are thousands of examples from which to choose, but one of the most glaring demonstrations of this extraordinary achievement surely must be the telephone.

In barely more than 150 years, the telephone has gone from a twinkle in inventors' eyes to one of the most prolific and ubiquitous devices in the world. Zoom in even further to examine just the past decade, and we see the pace of development increase exponentially. Not only has it become a critical communications tool woven into the fabric of society, but it has grown even further to become something barely short of an artificial yet essential appendage. Push e-mail, integrated Web browsers, Bluetooth headsets—it is all practically commoditized in price and small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.

And the speed of innovation hasn't let up. We now see the underlying infrastructure of telephone communications changing, in a rapid move away from the traditional Public Switched Telephone Network and toward the use of the Internet as the underpinning for voice communications. The doors opened by Voice over IP (VoIP) technology are exciting and significant, to say the least.

This month we focus on the effects these changes will have in the business world by looking at the recent release of Office Communications Server (OCS) 2007 R2. We begin with an overview of what's new in this release, including major enhancements such as call delegation, team ring, group chat, as well as enhancements to presence, instant messaging, and conferencing. We'll also dig deeper into features like Remote Call Control, controlling OCS from the command line, securing OCS on the network, and more.

Also worth a mention this month (and I may be understating it a bit) is the public beta release of Windows 7, which has just occurred at the time of this writing. The beta has received overwhelmingly positive feedback so far, so hopefully you've had a chance to check it out. If not, go to and give it a try. Needless to say, you'll be seeing a lot of coverage in our pages over the coming months, both of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2. If there are other particular topics you'd like to see us address, please drop us a line at

—Joshua Hoffman

Thanks to the following Microsoft technical experts: Pradipta Kumar Basu, Susan Bradley, Eric Charran, Rick Kingslan, Chermaine Li, Jingmei Li, Rui Maximo, Scott Schnoll, and Jim Truher.