Microsoft Preps New Enterprise IM Server

Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 will feature support for federation and presence.

Microsoft Corp. announced Tuesday that it is opening the beta program for the next version of its instant messaging and presence server, dubbed Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005.

The product, formerly code-named "Vienna," is expected to be available in beta sometime in June or July. Microsoft is looking for customers to test the product in beta, leading to a general availability release of LCS 2005 by the fourth quarter.

Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 is the successor to the current 2003 version of the product, formerly code-named "Greenwich."

Chief among the new features in this version will be support for federation of IM and presence so that customers can extend the technology to their partners, suppliers and customers. This will allow users to see presence information across, not just within, enterprises, from other applications such as Microsoft Outlook, Excel and SharePoint Services.

Similarly, LCS 2005 supports access to presence and IM from outside the corporate firewall with no VPN client required.

Users from outside the network will use the Windows Messenger client and tunnel into the network using Session Initiation Protocol over firewall port 5061, Microsoft officials said. Full encryption and authentication is supported, officials said.

Finally, LCS 2005 will have failover and clustering support for improved availability and support larger numbers of users with simpler system management capabilities, Microsoft officials said.

LCS 2005 will be covered by Microsofts Software Assurance program, so that existing LCS 2003 customers who signed up for Software Assurance (which was used to speed migrations from Exchange 2000 IM to LCS 2003) or customers on LCS 2003 or Exchange 2003 Enterprise Agreements will have rights to the 2005 release.

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