Microsoft try to link PC’s and phones
Delivering on a promise made last year to provide real-time collaboration software, Microsoft last week introduced a tool that combines instant messaging, audio and videoconferencing, and telephony.
Office Communicator 2005, which is due in June, and two other updated products are designed to make it easier for workers to manage their phone calls, email, and instant messages from the same place.
They're designed to let workers set up phone calls from Outlook; use one set of contacts for email, instant messaging, and Internet calls; and let other users see whether they're at their desks or on the move, and route calls accordingly.
The PC, cell phone, and desktop telephone are "a triumvirate that should work together," Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates said at a press conference.
Microsoft is trying to leverage its Office software suite and Windows operating system to head off the growing inroads in voice over IP being made by companies such as America Online, Avaya Communications, Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks, and Vonage Holdings.
To use Office Communicator, companies will need to buy Microsoft's Live Communications Server 2005, which came out last fall. At the end of this month, Microsoft plans to release an update that will let customers license the ability to use Office Communicator or Windows Messenger with the server to instant message with users of the AOL, MSN, and Yahoo networks. “Office Communicator will be sold as client-access licenses purchased with Live Communications Server,” Microsoft corporate VP Anoop Gupta says.
The company also plans to release a version of its Live Meeting software for Web conferencing, which includes the ability to schedule meetings from an Outlook calendar.
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