Luca Filigheddu has just posted Mac and Linux versions of his popular Firefox and Thunderbird VoIP extensions and I’m happy to report that the Mac Firefox version seems to work great on my MacBook Pro running OS X 10.4.7. I’m having some slight issues with it not automatically recognizing U.S.-style phone number formats on random web pages, but I expect that will get ironed out before the final release. The extension allows users to easily click on any number in the browser window and dial it, presents a simple but elegant phone menu in the browser’s chrome, and offers a browser sidebar with address book info — all features that are powerful and simple to use.
Not surprisingly, Ken Camp has the first post with analysis of this that I’ve seen, and I completely agree with Ken’s take:
The larger issue…the really important point…the forward-thinking key here, is that Abbeynet is steadily moving forward with what I believe is the real future of VoIP. Softphones are dead. They don’t add value. Not really. The value, and the evolution to unified communications is toward softphones as plug-ins, widgets and imbedded tools. The next-generation softphone won’t be a client you install at all. It will be a component of the web page, a component of the application. It will be where you need it to be.
Softphones are not nearly as convenient or useful as integrated systems like these AbbeyNet VoIP plugins, which is the direction that I expect VoIP software to continue in. The ability to click on any phone number on any web page to launch a call is a powerful one, and I can understand why AbbeyNet’s initial release of their VoIP Firefox and Thunderbird plug-ins generated so much interest. If, like me, you’re a Mac or Linux user and you’ve been dying to give these plug-ins a try, now’s the time. Click on over to Luca’s blog for the download links.