Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Windows Live Messenger: Poor Man's OCS? SMB OCS?

At our company we use Windows Live Messenger as our internal instant message system. What started out as a very adhoc system now has roughly 12 people on it and we keep asking for more features and easier admin as we grow. We are now at the point that its hard not to take a look at Microsoft Office Communications Server as a instant message server upgrade in the future. Researching OCS has had an unintended consequence--it's helping me see features in Windows Live Messenger we have been under utilizing:

GROUP CHAT: I have been finding lately that chats tend to be with groups: Sales group, Admin group or Networking Techs Group. What I had been doing is IM'ing the lead person and adding others to the chat. After reading about the persistent group chats in OCS 2007 R2 I thot, you know, group chat is more often what I want and took a quick look and found that Live Messenger does this too. Just goto Contacts > Create Group and now you start a group chat with 2 clicks!

SEND SMS: Ever want to dash off a quick SMS but don't feel like doing it on a phone? (Even on a nice iPAQ510 with full qwerty? ;-) Once it is setup a SMS can be sent as easily & quickly as an IM! Very nice.

HISTORY: If you have conversation history being saved (Tools > Options > Messages) you can even search for a past conversation.

Of course central management is not a forte of Live Messenger and we continue to eye OCS 2007 R2 as a possible upgrade path for our IM communication needs.

But will 3CX add IM as a feature to their offering and eliminate the need for a heavier solution? That would be great, but I wonder if focusing on & hardening 3CX's core PBX features isn't a better move.

Keywords: cheap ocs, ocs smb, 3CX instant messaging


Nick Galea said...

Nice post!

Chat is definitely on the road map. I'd say a basic version would be available within 6-9 months... Its really not hard to do for us once the operator panel is available. I think for most companies it does not make sense to run 3Cx and OCS, its more a choice between the two...

Matt Landis said...

Thanks Nick.

There are quite a few people making OCS integrate with PBX's but I tend to agree both will be a "heavy" solution for SMB. Just OCS can easily sprout into several servers.

But...the several servers can be a benefit too with a heavy load...

I would also say as much as I want features I would encourage focusing on 3CX core even more.

Once again, thanks.