Microsoft Extending IM Presence, Interoperability

Company outlined next features for Office Live Communications Server 2003, formerly Greenwich, due to launch next week.

SAN JOSE, Calif.—With its Office Live Communications Server 2003 ready to launch next week, Microsoft Corp. is prepping a series of new features to extend presence capabilities, add interoperability among enterprises and build in conferencing to the real-time collaboration platform.

Speaking at the Instant Messaging Planet Fall 2003 Conference and Expo here, Gurdeep Singh Pall, Microsofts general manager of real time collaboration, said that while the initial focus for Live Communications Server 2003 is on corporate instant messaging and presence, it will serve as a platform for the broader convergence of real-time communications.

"Instant messaging and presence is an important capability, but theyre part of a bigger picture," he said. "Two to three years down the road a better proposition will come along."

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Office Live Communications Server 2003, a project formerly code-named "Greenwich," is set to formally launch during next weeks Microsoft Office 2003 unveiling in New York.

Presence, the ability to know when someone else is online, is one of the major features being pushed in enterprise IM. Live Communications Server integrates presence throughout the Office productivity suite so that a user can, for example, see if another users is available and then launch Windows Messenger for an IM session from within an Office application, said Ed Simnett, lead product manager at Microsoft.

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Microsoft plans in the "near term" to further extend presence in the product to allow group presence, Singh Pall said. Group presence would enable a user in Outlook, for example, to send an instant message to members of a group distribution list, he said.

Along with being able to launch such a group session, group presence also would allow a group to be represented by a single icon and appear present even with only one member is online, Simnett explained.

Next page: What about interoperability?