Microsoft Adds Voice, Video to IM Client

The company is testing a new rich client that adds telephony and video capabilities to its enterprise IM offering.

BOSTON—Microsoft Corp. announced Tuesday an early beta of a new rich client for its Live Communications Server product designed to unite instant messaging with telephony and video, and to embed such technologies in other applications.

Code-named "Istanbul," the company is demonstrating the new Office-based technology at the Fall 2004 VON conference here this week and seeking testers for a managed beta program.

Istanbul will replace Windows Messenger as the preferred client for Live Communications Server, though Windows Messenger will continue to be included within the Windows operating system, Microsoft officials said.

"Istanbul is a richer client with richer capabilities," said Anoop Gupta, corporate vice president in Microsofts Real-Time Collaboration Business Unit, who formally announced Istanbul during his Tuesday morning keynote at VON.

/zimages/6/28571.gifAnalysts call Microsofts move into the VOIP market a natural progression. Click here to read more.

Gupta said Windows Messenger and Istanbul were analogous to Outlook Express and Outlook as clients to Microsofts Exchange e-mail server.

In addition to being an integrated client for IM, voice, video and Web conferencing, Istanbul would also support the embedding of such technologies into other applications—so-called "contextual collaboration," Gupta said.

"The reality of contextual collaboration is here now," he said.

Istanbul would provide "universal connectivity" with America Online Inc. and Yahoo Inc.s IM networks as well as other SIP (Session Initiation Protocol)/SIMPLE (SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions)-based communication technologies such as videoconferencing and IP PBX services, according to Gupta.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read about Microsofts deal with AOL and Yahoo to allow its enterprise IM server to interconnect with the companies IM services.

Istanbul, which looks like a traditional IM client, allows for the searching of corporate and Outlook address books, where users can see other users presence information, including out-of-office information from the Exchange server.

Customers can also use the Istanbul client to route calls from IP phones to their mobile phones. The client can launch Web conferences using Microsoft NetMeeting or Microsofts LiveMeeting service.

While integration with non-Microsoft SIP/SIMPLE-based technologies is planned, Gupta said a third-party gateway would be required to connect Istanbul with XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol)-based messaging technologies such as Jabber.

Customers interested in testing Istanbul during the managed beta program should contact their Microsoft account managers. General availability of the technology is expected in the first half of 2005. Pricing has not yet been determined.

/zimages/6/28571.gifCheck out eWEEK.coms Messaging & Collaboration Center at for more on IM and other collaboration technologies.


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