Communications developer Teleware has integrated its telephony services with Microsoft Office. Applications such as automatically routing your calls to any phone you specify, unified messaging, and PC/phone integration can now be accessed from an Outlook toolbar.

Calendar integration means Outlook can automatically send you SMS reminders of meetings and then switch your calls to voicemail while you are busy, according to product manager Richard Holland. It can even tell callers how long you'll be away for, he said, with presence indication to tell colleagues your availability.

The telephony applications can still be driven via a Web interface or from a phone keyboard as before, but integration with calendaring enables to fit better with the user's normal routine, he said.

"It takes care of things like people going into meetings or coming back from holiday and forgetting to change their voicemail message," he added. "Awareness of where people are improves business relationships."

He added that while these integrated functions are usually associated with IP telephony (IPT), the Teleware applications can work with any phone, whether a traditional PABX handset, an IP handset or softphone, or a mobile phone.

"The bulk of the companies delivering converged applications are IP companies, so they push IPT," he said. "The return on investment from IP telephony is partly from infrastructure convergence, but that's not enough on its own and the rest comes from the unified applications.

"Now you don't have to have IPT to have unified applications, so you can get a return on investment without it."