Microsoft Debuts New Communication Tools

Microsoft Debuts New Communication Tools

  
Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates revealed his company's collaboration and communication vision yesterday and unveiled two new Microsoft Office System products, Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 (code-named Istanbul) and Microsoft Live Communications Server 2005 Service Pack 1 (SP1), and one new service, Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2005. Gates also highlighted some of the technologies that Microsoft plans to ship in the next Office version, code-named Office 12.

  
"Our ambition ... is very broad: To change the way people communicate, the way they meet, the way they share information or even, of course, having people take notes electronically," Gates said. "One of the key areas ... we'll be focusing on today is breakthroughs in communication, breaking down the silos, bringing the information together, making things easy to set up. That's one of many areas that Office will be revolutionary in. It really can be what we call a 'new world of work,' an evolution of Office way beyond what people have thought of it traditionally when it was very much about a single worker doing a spreadsheet or doing something like word processing."

  
Gates discussed basic collaboration technologies, such as presence and notification, which are only partially implemented in today's software tools. For example, MSN Messenger can alert users when you're online or offline, but it doesn't provide richer presence information that describes how you're connected (PC software, cell phone, or Web-based) or where you're physically located. This information will determine how you can communicate with others.

  
A third piece of the puzzle is integrating communications and collaboration capabilities into the software tools people are already using. From Microsoft's perspective, those tools are the applications that comprise Microsoft Office. The idea is that you'll frequently need to access your Microsoft Office Outlook calendar, corporate data stored in a Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheet, or other information stored in Office formats when you communicate or collaborate with coworkers.

  
Today, Live Communications Server 2005 provides corporate-oriented Instant Messaging (IM) and presence capabilities. A new service pack for this product, which Gates announced yesterday, will be available later this month. The service pack adds several often-requested features, including auditing capabilities related to regulatory requirements, compatibility with Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), and HTTPS (HTTP Secure)-based remote access, similar to a feature in Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, that removes the need for VPN. Microsoft has also added a new interoperability technology called Public IM Connectivity that lets the product securely interoperate with public IM solutions such as AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger.

  
The big news, however, is the new Live Communications Server client, now called Office Communicator 2005. Communicator 2005 will ship by mid-year and provide far richer communications capabilities than those offered with traditional IM solutions such as MSN Messenger. Like IM clients, it provides text, audio, and video messaging. But Communicator 2005 also integrates with PBX-based telephony solutions and provides rich presence information that integrates with applications such as Exchange, so you could, for example, automatically alert coworkers when you're in a meeting.

  
Speaking of meetings, the final product announcement yesterday was a new version of the Live Meeting service called Live Meeting 2005. Like earlier versions, Live Meeting 2005 lets coworkers set up ad hoc virtual meetings in which participants at disparate physical locations can share presentations, a virtual whiteboard, and documents. Live Meeting 2005 adds Voice over IP (VoIP) support, which provides Internet-based telephony.

  
Taken together with other related initiatives, such as Exchange 12, which will manage PBX-based phone messages, and Office 12, which will include pervasive new collaboration tools, Microsoft's efforts are wide-ranging and long-term. You can find out more about the software giant's plans for Office 12 in a new SuperSite for Windows technology showcase.

  

On Tuesday, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates revealed his company's collaboration and communication vision and unveiled two new Office System products, Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 (codenamed "Istanbul") and Microsoft Live Communications Server 2005 Service Pack 1 (SP1), and one new service, Live Meeting 2005. Gates also highlighted some of the technologies Microsoft plans to ship in the next Microsoft Office version, codenamed Office 12.

"Our ambition ... is very broad: To change the way people communicate, the way they meet, the way they share information or even, of course, having people take notes electronically," Gates said. "One of the key areas ... we'll be focusing on today is breakthroughs in communication, breaking down the silos, bringing the information together, making things easy to set up. That's one of many areas that Office will be revolutionary in ... It really can be what we call a 'new world of work,' an evolution of Office way beyond what people have thought of it as traditionally when it was very much about a single worker doing a spreadsheet or doing something like word processing."

Gates discussed basic collaboration technologies, such as presence and notification, which are only partially implemented in today's software tools. For example, MSN Messenger can alert users when you're online or offline, but not provide richer presence information that describes how you're connected (PC software, cell phone, or Web-based) or where you're physically located. This information will determine how you can communicate with others.

A third piece of the puzzle, of course, is integrating communications and collaboration capabilities into the software tools people are already using. From Microsoft's perspective, of course, those tools are the applications that comprise Microsoft Office. The idea is that you will frequently need to access your Outlook calendar, corporate data stored in an Excel spreadsheet, or other information stored in Office formats when you communicate or collaborate with coworkers.

Today, Microsoft's Live Communications Server 2005 provides corporate-oriented instant messaging and presence capabilities. A new service pack for this product, announced yesterday by Gates, will be made available later this month. The service pack adds a number of often-requested features, including auditing capabilities related to regulatory requirements, compatibility with Microsoft Operations Manager (MOM), and HTTPS-based remote access, similar to a feature in Exchange Server 2003, that removes the need for VPN. Microsoft has also added a new interoperability technology, called Public IM Connectivity, that lets the product securely interoperate with public instant messaging (IM) solutions such as AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), MSN Messenger, and Yahoo! Messenger.

The big news, however, was the new Live Communications Server client, now called Microsoft Office Communicator 2005. Communicator will ship by mid-year and provide far richer communications capabilities than what's offered with tradition IM solutions such as MSN Messenger. Like IM clients, it provides text, audio, and video messaging. But Communicator also integrates with PBX-based telephony solutions. Finally, Communicator also provides rich presence information that integrates with such things as Exchange, so you could, for example, automatically alert coworkers when you were in a meeting.

Speaking of meetings, the final product announcement yesterday was a new version of the Live Meeting service called Live Meeting 2005. Like previous versions, Live Meeting 2005 lets coworkers set up ad hoc virtual meetings in which participants at disparate physical locations can share presentations, a virtual whiteboard, and documents. Live Meeting 2005 adds Voice over IP (VoIP) support, which provides Internet-based telephony.

Taken together with other related initiatives, such as Exchange 12, which will manage PBX-based phone messages, and Office 12, which will include pervasive new collaboration tools, Microsoft's efforts are wide-ranging and long-term. You can find out more about the software giant's plans for Office 12 in a new SuperSite for Windows tech showcase.

TAGS: Windows 8
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