Another busy week as well as visiting healthcare customers in the Manchester area I've spent a couple of days at our office in Reading on a Training Course.   One of the things I certainly take for granted (and yes its easy working for Microsoft) is the technology that enables me to keep in touch with customers, partners, peers (and just occasionally) friends and family.

The beginning of the week saw me working from home.  I was fortunate enough to be one USBPhone_thumb2of the early adopters of our Office Communications Server and its now become an integral part of my work life.  First and foremost all of my telephone calls now get routed over the internet to my PC - I have one of the usb handsets pictured here.   Other colleagues prefer alternatives though such as headsets, web-cams ands speaker phones - its very much down to personal preference.  On Monday afternoon I was asked to do a live meeting on our Sharepoint technologies with a customer.   Live Meeting allowed me to sit at home and communicate with a colleague in Reading and the customers (who were themselves at two sites).     We were able to speak, share slides and view the demonstrations over the web.

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Tuesday brought a visit to a customer in the Manchester area - being environmentally friendly (and avoiding the traffic in Stockport) I travelled there on the train. This enabled me to catch up on lots of email and to prepare for the meetings using my laptop.   I also had with me my smartphone which enables me to pick up emails, contacts, calendar, tasks etc straight from Microsoft Exchange - as well as being able to make calls of course.

Having the smartphone is great as it gives me another way to get hold of important information when I'm out and about.    Obviously if I have my PC I can use Outlook,  if I'm at a internet cafe I can use Outlook Web Access and now with Microsoft Exchange I can use voice access.  From any telephone I can ring up Microsoft Exchange put in my extension number and pin and pick up my email, voicemail, calendar etc.

The other great new feature in Microsoft Exchange unified messaging. Outlook has always been the place where I pick up my eMail, Contacts, Calendar etc but now this includes my voicemail and faxes.    This saves me lots of time - after the customer meeting I quickly checked Outlook and picked up my messages.  Any Voicemail's appear in Outlook alongside my other eMail messages - however, Outlook understands that this is a Voicemail and gives me a few options - these include taking notes against the Voicemail and the ability to Play on a phone (this is really useful feature especially when I'm working in an open-plan office and I don't necessarily want the whole room listening to my messages).

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This also enables me to store all of my emails, voicemail's, faxes (IM and RSS feeds too) in one place - and be able to search and find the information I need.

By the way - I am writing the article on the train home from Reading (using Live Writer) - I've connected my PC to my SmartPhone via Bluetooth and used Internet Connection Sharing to connect to the web to directly post to my blog.