James O'Neill's Blog

June 19, 2007

Campaign for real numbers update

Filed under: Exchange,Real Time Collaboration — jamesone111 @ 4:28 pm

I’ve had an outlook rule in place for a while to tell people about broken phone numbers, I thought I’d report back. The first thing I found was that colleagues who forward lots of mail threads soon tired of seeing the message, so I’ve filtered out anything which is a reply or forward.

The rule now goes

  • Apply this rule after the message arrives
  • with+44(0) or +44 (O) in the body
  • Unless RE: or FW: appears in the subject
  • have server reply using {specific message}

I’ve noticed several people changed their signatures. One person has told me they will set up a similar rule.  Another got in touch to say that if he didn’t write in the broken format i.e. +44 (0), his signature would be 10 lines long. I think I convinced him of the point:

Not everyone or everything understands +44 (0) 118 909 3080, but anyone who does, also understands +44 118 909 3080.

Interestingly someone who works in Microsoft HR says she has been told she must write her phone number in that format. Sigh.

Some of Microsoft’s own Global address list entries have broken numbers. Since we now have Outlook Voice Access, I can dial into the system from my car and say “Directory”, the system will ask who I want to call, and if I say “Joe Blogs” it will call up Joe’s information and I can say “Call the office”, “Call the Mobile” or whatever numbers it has. If these are in the proper E.164 format +44 1234 56789 – no zero before the area code – then all is well: but if Joe (or who ever entered his phone number) was a numpty and wrote +44 (0) 1234 56789 instead. I can’t call him. Perhaps I shouldn’t be rude about people write their numbers in this way – I know two senior people in Microsoft UK who do.


Obviously as an early adopter of Voice access this bothers me, but today it got more important because I have dumped my desk-phone. I’m now on the pilot for Unified Communications. So have the new version of communicator running on my desktop and an “engineering sample” of a “Catalina” phone. Yipee! Call me King Sad of the Sad people but I’m actually excited. Mark Deakin has comprehensive summary of the devices for UC on his blog the Catalina is the phone which will come to market as the LG-Nortel UCT-100DSK and Polycomm CX200. Sound quality is quite nice at my end. I’m not quite sure what it sounds like at the other end.

The first two numbers I dialed were entered in a BROKEN FORMAT: One had the dreaded leading zero, in the GAL and the other had ;ext=1234 added to the end in communicators local address book… actually RFC 3966 says this is OK – I’d better file a communicator bug 🙂   

By the way if you follow RFC3966 and make your phone number a link in the form with a URL of TEL:+44-1234-56789 (n.b. there’s no // in the URL) people who have a supported dialer (like communicator) can click to dial. Why don’t I feel optimistic that we’ll do that on our web pages any time soon.  ?

But if your future includes OCS Telephony, Outlook Voice Access, Windows Mobile Devices which can query the GAL, or Mobile devices where people read mail and make calls then

  1. Clean your GAL and work to keep it clean – which you won’t do without 
  2. Educate users to write numbers in machine readable format.
  3. If you can get people to make phone numbers clickable, that’s a bonus.

Bonus Link. Some good stuff about why this is NOT Rip and Replace at a newish site we have called VOIP as you are.


This post originally appeared on my technet blog.

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