Monday, March 7, 2005

Microsoft Advances its Integrated Communications Vision

In a global conference call event, Bill Gates outlined Microsoft's vision for integrated communications, saying Microsoft is committed to building presence awareness into all its software applications, integrating various modes of communication (e-mail, phone, instant messaging (IM), short message service (SMS), videoconferencing and Web conferencing) to allow seamless transition from one mode to another, and delivering intelligent software that can manage communications with the context of a person's availability and preferences. The webcast included an unveiling of a new release of Microsoft Office Live Meeting, the company's hosted Web conferencing service, which launches this month.

Company executives also demonstrated Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 (previously code-named "Istanbul"), its new integrated communications application that provides rich presence and unifies real-time communications modes -- such as IM, voice, video and access to voice conferencing and Web conferencing -- into a single application. It also enables PC-to-phone integration.

"We have lots of ways to connect with people using technology, but there are countless opportunities to make them smarter and more efficient."

Live Meeting 2005 will provide the ability to launch a meeting from within Microsoft Office software, better audio controls, and presenter control capabilities. In addition, Live Meeting 2005 will be available in localized versions with support for seven additional languages. Some specific new capabilities include:

  • Microsoft Live Meeting is sold as a hosted online service. Several license models are available (named user, room, shared seat and monthly minute) in order to accommodate different types of organizations. Live Meeting Event Services also are available for customers that require professional event management to conduct their online events.

  • new presenter controls enable participants to be called directly to join a meeting and allows presenters to mute, unmute and disconnect participants from MCI, BT and InterCall audioconferencing services.

  • as an alternative to telephone audioconferencing, customers can significantly reduce audio-related costs with Internet Audio Broadcast, which streams VoIP over the Internet.

  • a Live Meeting Add-In for Outlook gives users two-way sync with the Outlook calendar and the ability to schedule a meeting offline.


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