Why is OCS and Communicator 2007 better than Windows Live Messenger?

Mark and me on communicator Mark Deakin and I had a think about this question, posted on a comment by Michael (thanks for the idea Michael).

So we spun up a video call together - I was at home and Mark in the office and a live sharing One Note 2007 page.  Here's what we came up with but please add your own ideas as comments if you can think of more.

Communicator 2007 with OCS is better than using WLM because:

Its integrated with the AD, Exchange and SharePoint

  • Looks up all the numbers for you, mobile, landline, home etc from contacts or the GAL
  • Uses your calendar to auto set your presence state
  • Takes you to their mysite on right click

  • Presence globes throughout MS Office system, including SharePoint, AD, Outlook, Word, other apps etc.


  • Anyone can sign up for your Windows Live ID and thus pretend to be you (all it says is 'email address not verified'
  • In WLM you can change your name to someone else. All too easy to change your name and impersonate someone else.
  • When you leave an organisation, your communicator buddy list stays with the company. With WLM you take that list with you
  • Communicator is possible to log conversation centrally, not possible with WLM
  • Because it encrypts the traffic so people can't intercept your messages as they travel outside the firewall

Higher fidelity presence

  • You can see at a glance if they are OOF before you email them or IM them
  • With Communicator you have advanced presence such as 'in call' and 'in a meeting' which are set automatically
  • You can tag a contact if you are looking for them
  • With Communicator you can also see the presence of those that are NOT on buddy list.  This is a big one - its people you don't know that well that you need the most presence assistance with.  I'd have to put the whole company on my buddy list to use WLM for this.

Phone integration

  • Communicator integrates with your phone
  • Can divert calls to the device you choose even mid call
  • Communicator lets you answer the phone on your pc if you like because the two are integrated
  • You can have your phone do simultaneous ring like your desk and mobile
  • Via remote call control, you can see your phone calls come in even when you are not near your phone or mobile and can choose to take them via the pc or send to vmail
  • Is integrated with your voicemail letting you talk to your voicemail inbox from the client
  • With Communicator you can make outgoing and incoming calls from your PC. WLM only does outgoing - and its nowhere near as good quality (IMHO)
  • You can click on a phone number in a document and it will phone it, you can cut and paste numbers and edit them before dialling

Enterprise management

  • Communicator client is updated once every 3 or so years. WLM has a shorter refresh cycle so requires more effort to maintain in an enterprise

  • You can do multi person video conferencing - don't think you can do that with WLM

  • Can IM a DL
  • Cleaner UI, more corporate

Comments (13)
  1. John Lamb says:

    Hi Darren,

      I wanted to add another major advantage of an OCS (or LCS) Enterprise-based solution that many people usually don’t initially think about — but I believe it’s the most powerful one of all:  

    LCS and OCS have a very strong set of API’s for both the server and the client, which make your deployment an incredible platform for developing applications that leverage real-time communications.  This platform can be used not only to build new applications within your enterprise, but to also provide the ability to easily integrate presence and communications features into your existing Line of Business applications.  

    For example, with an OCS infrastructure in place, you can add Presence, IM and click-to-call functionality into your CRM app, your directory search portal or your helpdesk case escalation tools with very minimal development effort.  

    You could also build a "bot" application that automatically responds to inquiries or routes the question to the best and most available person automatically

    You can’t do these things if you are using a public IM client.

    There is a lot of great information, sample code and toolkits available on MSDN and in the recently released SDK’s for the new UC client and server API’s.  I’d encourage anyone with an interest in this to check them out.  

    Thanks and keep the great posts coming!


  2. Michael says:

    Thanks guys! I was hoping you would answer this question! I’m glad you guys did.

    Ok, so I get it now. Sorry, I didn’t get this sooner.

    Basically, Communicator 2007 + OCS is highly optimized for use in a business company with tons of better features.

    While WLM is for your average computer user.

    Wow, I should have gotten that.

    Thanks for putting up a whole post to explain it. At least I know ‘exactly’ why Communicator 2007 + OCS is better than WLM. Thanks guys. I appreciate it.  

  3. Thanks to both of you for facilitate the explanation of difference between OCS and WLM.  The bad thing is that people starts to using 2 programs to comunicate with others.  I think one point to optimize in Office Communication Server 2007 is the way to connect to Hotmail or AOL… maybe a Windows Live Mail Proxy rather than federated public IM Connectivity. (For small companies that don’t want to pay the aditional License)


  4. dstrange says:

    Communicator can already connect to hotmail or AOL users – this is part of the product.  I have several hotmail contacts in my communicator list.  This does not require any kind of federation or special license.

  5. You did mention central conversation logging but one of the better returns of that, logging centrally into a SQL Server, is that the conversations data is so much better protected there. WLM saves conversations only to a xml-file, easily modified by the end user.

  6. If you are a regular OfficeRocker reader you might think I’ve developed a bit of an obsession with OCS

  7. If you are a regular OfficeRocker reader you might think I've developed a bit of an obsession with

  8. Kevin says:

    > Thursday, August 09, 2007 11:47 AM by dstrange

    Communicator can already connect to hotmail or AOL users – this is part of the product.  I have several hotmail contacts in my communicator list.  This does not require any kind of federation or special license.

    Huh? It’s about a dollar per user per month and absolutely requires federation.

  9. dstrange says:

    I’m sorry – I was wrong.  It does happen.  It’s true that I do connect to external IM users but Microsoft must have the public IM connector here.  more details at http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/communicationsserver/HA102030071033.aspx

    the federation is done by the public IM connector.  It is also possible to federate with another LCS infrastructure from another company – we’ve done this for example with BT which means I get extra details about the contacts there drawn from their AD.  

  10. GAbber says:

    Ik vind dit een goed ideee voor windows messenger 5.3

  11. Suresh says:

    Does OCS support Voice over WLAN on a WIndows Mobile?

  12. dstrange says:

    I’m told that although there is a mobile version of communicator, it doesn’t support voice on 2007.  I think the reasoning is along the lines of lets walk before we try triple jumping.

  13. Marc says:

    From what I’ve seen Communicator 2007 doesn’t have the horrible adverts that Windows Live does (those Flash ones that pop up as you mouse-over them!).

    Another plus.

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