Thursday, March 15, 2018

Microsoft Communications on the Enterprise Connect 2018 Expo Floor – Day 1

For those of you that were not able to make it to Enterprise Connect this year, I wanted to bring a bit of my perspective from the Expo Floor. While there were some pretty big announcements blasted out via official Microsoft blogs on Monday, there is also a lot happening with several of Microsoft’s strategic device & solution partners – and much of this was on display on the Expo Floor. Let’s start with the Microsoft Booth.

 Microsoft – Teams & Skype for Business

Ok, the “Skype for Business” portion of that title is more or less a courtesy, as Microsoft Teams has taken not just center stage, but almost the entire stage, at EC this year. As you can see from the picture above, the Microsoft booth is painted Teams-purple this year, with Teams at the epicenter. While you had the impressive Hub displays all over within the booth, there were also several big screens set up for Teams demonstration purposes.

Skype Room Systems

The display of Skype Room Systems is growing steadily (Will they continue to be called “Skype Room Systems”, I wonder…), and this was on display at the booth. Lenovo announced a new SRS during the Ignite timeframe last year, but I’ll get to them in a second (I stopped by their booth separately). The other new player in the SRS space is HP with their Elite Slice:

The Elite Slice has a propped up display, with the familiar interface of the other SRS’s. The cube-shaped box to the right is the computing base with ports for external devices, and on top of the computing base is a large speaker. The speaker is actually optional, and if you get the base without the speaker, the base can be under-mounted to the conference table, allowing for a cleaner tabletop.

Teams Interfaces for Devices

I’ll provide an image or two of the Teams interface on a couple partner devices a bit later on, but Microsoft has a glass case at their booth, filled with various partner devices, all running a Teams interface. I must say, the Teams interface does look pretty slick on these devices, and I am excited to see this piece of the Teams transition story coming into focus.

Lenovo Thinksmart HUB 500 (SRS)

As mentioned above, I was able to stop at the Lenovo booth on Day 1 to get a closer look at a full SRS setup using the new Lenovo Thinksmart HUB 500. This device can swivel a full 360 degrees for ease of access on all sides of the conference table. There is also a light that encompasses the base to match the Skype for Business status.

One thing I personally appreciated about this device from an aesthetic standpoint is the beveled edges at the top and bottom of the display.

As for the rest of the specs, I could list them here. OR, I could just share an image of the spec sheet that Lenovo was handing out at their booth. Yeah, let’s go with that last idea…

AudioCodes C450HD

AudioCodes was one of various Microsoft device partners to display the upcoming Teams interface on their newly announced C450HD:

As you might expect, this new interface has theming that is very nicely matched to the Microsoft Teams experience. The tabbed feel of the Teams menu is even present at the bottom of the phone, with Calls, Meetings, and Voicemail tabs present. There is also a Dialpad button on the screen, if you prefer to use an on-screen dialpad versus the physical keys, and contacts can be searched for with your GAL/Contacts through the search features in the upper-right hand corner.

While the C450HD is a new offering for AudioCodes, I should note that this new Teams experience is very consistent across the other 3rd-party devices that are also previewing this experience (Polycom and Yealink).

Yealink T58A & CP960 Teams Edition Conference Phone

Yealink’s newer T58A was on display at their booth, with a similar Teams experience as was described above. The design of this phone is a bit unique, bringing focus to the main screen, and affording a lot of real estate on this screen:

Shifting gears to the conference phone, Yealink’s CP960 Teams Edition was also on display, with a very familiar Teams experience. The interface brings a really “mobile phone” feel with it.

To each side of the CP960 are wireless peripheral speakers for distributed audio input in a conference room. These wireless speakers are very thin (a drink coaster comes to mind for comparison, though the speakers are obviously a bit thicker. When not in use, the speakers can be placed in a charging dock between meetings to ensure you don’t run into a nasty “out or batteries” situation mid-meeting:

Stay Tuned….

This was a brief summary of some of the device innovations that I was able to soak in during Day 1 of Enterprise Connect. Stay tuned, as I will be spending the greater part of Day 3 on the Expo Floor, and will be bringing a short description of the new features and devices that I observe from the other partners out there in the Microsoft UC ecosystem!

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