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Microsoft Live Communications Server 2005 Coming Dec. 1

Live Communications Server 2005, Microsoft's second-generation real-time communications server, is released to manufacturing and will be generally available on Dec. 1, the company said Tuesday.

Formally named Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005, the product provides an instant message and presence awareness infrastructure for IT organizations that want to give their employees the power of the communications tools without the potential security and legal exposure that free IM offerings present.

New to the 2005 version is the ability to extend instant messaging and presence awareness to organizations outside the enterprise firewall. The new server will also support a more robust client, code-named "Istanbul," which Microsoft announced last week. Istanbul is expected to give users the ability to route calls from desktop phones to cell phones or directly into voice mail from the computer screen and to set up virtual conference calls. Availability of Istanbul is planned for the first half of next year.

The ability to extend IM and presence awareness outside the firewall, called federation by Microsoft, allows organizations to extend the encrypted, authenticated and managed environment from Live Communications Server 2003 to their partners with the 2005 version. The new version is also supposed to allow IM users to share presence information with outsiders using the MSN, AOL and Yahoo! public IM networks.

A related new feature is the ability for end users to connect to presence and IM capabilities from outside the corporate network. Meanwhile, Microsoft has also worked on scalability, with a new capacity of 15,000 active users per server.

Live Communications Server 2005 will ship in standard and enterprise editions. Pricing information on the two editions was not posted as of mid-day Tuesday.

Microsoft plans to make an evaluation edition available in late November.

About the Author

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

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