Never first, usually not second, but always a tour de force, Microsoft has signaled the market that they plan on making a huge push in 2007 in the VoIP and Video Communications sector.
What does this mean? Well likely in January Microsoft will begin to show off some consumer VoIP products in a big way at CES, either under cover in private briefings or in their booth. It also means a flurry of activity with so called partners who will all become "Microsoft Certified."
There will also be a concerted effort of briefings with bloggers, analysts and the media, with some exclusives aimed towards the likes of Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal, John Markoff at the New York Times and someone at Forbes or Fortune. At some point the bloggers will get the info, but not until we're allowed to be told.
This also means that VoIP will be a big part of Vista, and the Ray Ozzie touch will be seen on the integration with collaboration. I also expect to see Microsoft really support SIP in their Live Messenger, not the current kludge. Where this goes with their interoperability with Yahoo Messenger is also up for grabs. My guess is that Microsoft moves heavily into the voice peering market and starts to work with the xConnects and Stealth Communications type of companies that are already there.
With hundreds of millions of users, software installed on the desktop, a platform for business called the Live Communications Server which wants to do for voice what Exchange has done for e-mail, Microsoft is poised to become a significant player in Voice, beyond what they are already doing with X-Box Live..so you see, they aren't exactly inexperienced here and likely have already laid out battle plans.