It appears that Microsoft is getting into the unified communications game under the guise of a project called "Echoes". And by unified I mean truly unified, where all a user’s devices and message channels are aggregated and used to contact the user in the way he wants to be contacted at any given time. It seems to be a multi-pronged approach, with some software for telcos to install and other software for end-users. The end result sounds somewhat interesting:
Messenger contacts will automatically appear in users’ phone address
book, so that even if they don’t know one of their Live Messenger
contact’s phone number, they still will be able to call it. Numbers
will be able to ring simultaneously on multiple devices/systems. On the
flip side, Echoes will help insure instant-messaging-to-SMS continuity.
A user can send an IM to any mobile contact, and the contact can
respond via a text message.
But the implementation looks clunky as hell to me. Every contact has to be a Windows Live user in order for this to work, and I just don’t see them as having the traction nor the momentum to make this happen. They also have close to zero geek cred at this time, so getting the early adopters to pick this up will prove somewhat difficult.
While this is an interesting concept, and I like the overall idea, the implementation (if correct, it’s all rumors at the moment) sucks. Once again, Microsoft is heading down the path of blazing its own trail instead of playing nicely with everyone else. Instead of using open standards like FOAF, which the rest of the world can play with as well, they insist on re-inventing the wheel–badly.
Is Microsoft still big enough to push through a proprietary standard? It’s an open world now, and the "magic" to make this happen is already all out there for the world to to pick up and use–the only problem is that there’s nobody out there pushing it right now, so Microsoft may have a first-mover advantage.
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