Microsoft Office Roundtable v. Polycom

Microsoft is releasing a new hardware device, called Microsoft Office Roundtable, in mid 2007. It will integrate with Live Meeting (Microsoft’s WebEx competitor) and allow for very easy plug and play video conferencing – just plug it into any computer that has Live Meeting or Microsoft Communication Server. The device will retail for $3,000.

This may be less of a competitive concern for WebEx than Polycom, who make a living selling very high end video and voice conference calling hardware. If Roundtable does everything promised (on the fly video conferencing, integration with Office and a whiteboard and a “360-degree, panoramic video of side-by-side images of everyone who taking part in the conference,”, this will be a must-have device around the office.

Microsoft says its been testing about 100 of the devices across Microsoft’s Redmond, China and India offices.