Today, Microsoft announced Communications Server ''14'', the follow-up to the current product, Office Communications Server 2007 R2. (Based on the timing, I imagine they'll call it OCS 2011, but we'll see.) Today's OCS version is described as "a platform for presence, instant messaging, conferencing, and enterprise voice for businesses around the world." Here's what's going on with the next version.

Code-named Communications Server ‘14’, it will be available in the second half of 2010. During the keynote, Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Unified Communications Group, will also demonstrate the new software for the first time publicly.

Highlights from Pall's keynote address today at the VoiceCon Orlando 2010 conference include:

  • With Communications Server ‘14’ Microsoft is investing to make communications simpler, lower cost and more open. The new version will deliver a complete communications solution, including enterprise telephony and a familiar and powerful way to communicate and collaborate using Microsoft Office, SharePoint and Exchange with Communications Server 14.
  • An open platform that works with what customers already have and allows them to embed communications in any application.

Earlier this week, several Microsoft partners announced new products and services that enhance Communications Server ‘14’, including low cost IP phones as well as branch office, call accounting and E911 solutions.

Office Communications Server has grown by double digits every year for the last three years, and is one of the fastest growing servers at Microsoft.  Today, more than 70% of the Fortune 100 have OCS as well as 7 of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies, 8 of the top 10 aerospace companies, and 9 of the top 10 banks.

Additionally, Gurdeep’s keynote will include two new predictions for the future of communications software:

  • UC will be the norm in business communications in three years and making a plain telephony call will seem outdated.  Specifically, Gurdeep predicts that over 50% of all VoIP calls will incorporate more than just voice, and your “end point” will make UC possible with more than a billion people.
  • Further, Gurdeep predicts the rise of more connected communications, and will state that, in three years, 75% of new business applications will include natively embedded communications.

More info about Gurdeep's predictions for the future can be had on the Official Microsoft Blog. And more images of the product are available on the Microsoft PressPass web site.