Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has laid out a new vision for UC and affirmed the company's commitment to developing 'mixed reality' and AI as game changers.
Speaking at Microsoft's Ignite conference in Orlando last month Nadella also revealed a new programming language optimised for exploiting scalable quantum computers, and detailed the expansion of Dynamics 365 with AI solutions, as well as additions to Microsoft 365 and extensions to Azure including a fresh hybrid cloud approach across data, apps and infrastructure.
"I'm inspired by the ingenuity of customers, partners and developers who are pushing the frontiers of what's possible with mixed reality and artificial intelligence infused across Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure, to transform and have impact in the world," stated Nadella.
Plans to bring Skype for Business Online capabilities into Microsoft Teams (the enabler of teamwork within Office 365) along with cognitive and data services positions Teams as the hub for teamwork in Office 365.
According to Scott Riley, Chief Strategy Officer at GCI, the move is 'bold' and has potentially significant implications for the UC space.
"It paints a long-term vision for Microsoft and its customers based around Office 365," he said.
"Teams will bring everything together in one place via a single unified client, making Office 365 more useful."
Microsoft also confirmed its commitment to Skype for Business Server, with a new version pipelined for 2018 designed to provide better support for on-premise and hybrid environments.
"Microsoft has recognised that the majority of organisations in the UK are in between the old world of on-premise environments and the new world of the cloud," added Riley. "They're transitioning, and most are running hybrid environments.
"So there is no obligation to adopt Teams immediately. Organisations already running Skype for Business online may want to jump straight in, but many will still find that the Skype for Business Server is their best primary PBX replacement, at this moment in time at least."