Gartner's latest Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications (thanks Peter) is a prime example of why analysts aren't worth a damn. You might think it's because I think they slighted IBM/Lotus, but you would be wrong. It's because they compared vaporware to shipping products as apples to apples. Let me explain....
Here is their definition of a Leader:
The Leaders quadrant contains vendors that are selling comprehensive and integrated UC products that address a range of market needs. These vendors have defined migration and evolution plans for their products in all the core UC markets. The product planners looking at these products and vendors should understand the significant technical and strategic differences among them.
And here is their definition of a Challenger:
Vendors in the Challengers quadrant offer products that are not fully mature or that remain narrowly focused on an installed base but that have the potential to improve.
Now, reading these 2 definitions would lead any reasonable person to believe that if a company's products aren't shipping yet, no matter how cool they are, the company should be a Challenger and not a Leader. I guess they blew the call on Microsoft almost as badly as the referees in the World Cup this year. How else can you explain their decision to make them a Leader when they don't even have a shipping suite of products?
Regardless of what I think of the MS offerings, the fact that Exchange 2007 is the first version with integrated UC and isn't even in full public beta yet would lead me to believe that their products aren't fully mature. How can a product be mature when it hasn't even been born yet? And I am sure that there isn't one company out there who has purchased an Exchange 2007 or Live Meeting license yet and they are key parts of their UC offerings. Heck, even Gartner's analysis says as much (emphasis is mine):
Although many of the functions are not yet in general release, or are at an early-stage, together, this represents a strong emerging UC portfolio. These functions can also be integrated with Microsoft Speech Server, Active Directory, Microsoft's various mobility solutions and will be offered as a premises solution through channels or as a service through partners. Organizations interested in UC should understand Microsoft's vision for how communications will evolve and should consider pilots and trials. However, enterprises should understand that this is still an early stage solution. As such, it is likely to undergo significant and rapid evolution and to lack integration and administration across components.
That doesn't sound much like a Leader to me. How can you have a completeness of vision if you only work on one platform? How can you be able to execute if you haven't shipped the necessary products? In looking at the URL for the report, I guess the answers should be just as clear.