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VoiceCon Microsoft keynote: Gurdeep Singh Pall throws desk phone in the trash

Microsoft corporate vice president for unified communications Gurdeep Singh Pall essentially threw the contemporary desk phone in the proverbial trashcan today during his VoiceCon keynote, arguing that software-based communications is the way of the future.

Pall compared the desk phone to the Brother word processor that started filling landfills across the country in the 1980s and 1990s. Pall was merciless, saying that too many telecom vendors are stuck in the past, still insisting that their customers need to buy a desk phone for every user. His disdain for the desk phone probably stings the ears of many of these same vendors who have partnered with Microsoft on OCS, but apparently Pall thinks everyone needs to hear his message, whether friend or foe.

“Folks, we cannot afford to do the things you did before,” he said.

Pall admitted that some users still need a desk phone, but he said the softphone capabilities available from Microsoft’s Office Communications Server and the Office Communicator client promise to make employees more flexible and productive. He said OCS is a single platform and a single infrastructure, not “five infrastructures with copious amount of duct tape around it.”

Pall ended his address with a memorable image. He asked attendees to imagine that they’ve been given a $300-per-user budget to buy a device for the desktop. He held up two options: A typical desk phone, which he said would cost $300. And then a small notebook computer, which he said you could buy at Walmart for $300. Which one would you buy, he asked. Then he said, “It’s time to get rid of the Brother word processor,” and he tossed the desk phone aside.

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