Microsoft merges IM and Exchange groups

No standfirst, byline at end

By Stacy Cowley

Microsoft is merging its Exchange and Real-Time Collaboration (RTC) groups into a new unit called the Unified Communications Group. The change is aimed at aligning development work on Microsoft’s email platform with that done around other communications systems like instant messaging, web conferencing and phone/VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).

The new Unified Communications Group will be led by Anoop Gupta, who is currently the corporate vice president of Microsoft’s RTC unit. The new group will be part of Microsoft’s business division, overseen by Jeff Raikes.

Microsoft says the restructuring won’t affect existing product plans or release schedules. The next version of Exchange, Microsoft’s email and collaboration system, is due to be launched late this year or early in 2007, while a closely watched RTC product, Speech Server 2007, is also scheduled for release later this year.

Exchange, Live Communications Server and other software products will remain as standalone offerings.

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