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Istanbul to Bring Telephony to Windows Instant Messaging

Microsoft is working on a telephony-enabled client software for its Live Communication Server 2005 real-time communications server, code-name "Istanbul," that will ship sometime after the server's debut near the end of this year.

Anoop Gupta, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Real-Time Collaboration Group, unveiled the existence of Istanbul on Tuesday at the Fall 2004 VON Conference & Expo in Boston.

Istanbul has been described as an overhaul of the Windows Messenger IM client that shipped in Windows XP. Windows Messenger allowed for instant messaging and presence, along with some voice and video capabilities. Istanbul is expected to bring end-user call routing and the ability to create virtual meetings.

The call routing is one of the most interesting aspects of Istanbul. When a call comes to a desktop phone, the user will see a prompt onscreen giving options for taking the call on the computer, sending it directly to voice mail or re-routing the call to a mobile phone.

Microsoft also promises direct integration with other Office desktop products. "End users will be able to initiate collaboration directly from their already familiar desktop applications," Microsoft said in a statement.

The beta program is available to existing Microsoft customers and entered the nomination phase Tuesday.

The Istanbul client will be dependent on Exchange Server for calendar and scheduling information and Live Communications Server 2005, which is scheduled for release in December. According to Microsoft, Istanbul will be generally available in the first half of 2005.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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