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Third Parties Roll Out Support for Microsoft Collaboration Tools

Third-party companies this week rolled out services and add-on products to complement Microsoft’s Office Live Communications Server 2005 (LCS) real-time collaboration tools.

For its part, Microsoft announced it will ship its much-awaited client – originally codenamed “Istanbul” and now dubbed the Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 – for its recently released LCS 2005 within the next three months. (See, “Istanbul Becomes Office Communicator 2005).

Company chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates announced that a service pack for LCS 2005, coming in April, will provide support in LCS for Communicator. In addition, Microsoft will deliver public instant-messaging connectivity (PIC) for enterprise-grade connectivity from LCS to the MSN, AOL and Yahoo! public instant messaging networks.

The company also announced the availability of Live Meeting 2005, an update to its hosted, online conferencing service that adds some support for voice over IP (VoIP), among other new features. “Over time, the voice and the data will all travel over the IP network but we want to make sure that we're giving high quality voice choices and so making that actually a very independent thing,” says Gates.

Against that technological backdrop, several Microsoft partner companies unveiled their own complementary plans. Though many of the announcements – from companies like Salesforce.com, WebEx, and MCI – were signals of intent to support the new technologies and services Microsoft announced, some gave more concrete product details and timelines.

For example, Mitel of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada said it will ship in the third quarter an edition of its Contact Center Solution that supports presence and collaboration capabilities through voice, email, web-chat and fax via LCS 2005.

Meanwhile, FaceTime of Foster City, California, announced it is shipping FaceTime Enterprise Edition for LCS 2005 as well providing support for PIC with LCS 2005. The product enforces standardization by shutting down unauthorized IM and P2P networks, blocking file transfers or imposing file size limits, as well as scanning files for viruses and worms, and intercepting SPIM, a company statement says.

Additionally, Vonexus of Indianapolis, Ind., said it will ship by April 1 Vonexus Live Conference IP audio conferencing software, which integrates support for Microsoft Live Meeting 2005. It will be available as both a standalone audio conference server, and as an add-on to Vonexus’ IP PBX product, Enterprise Interaction Center -- an all-software IP telephony product designed for small- to medium-sized business customers.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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