Microsoft pushes real-time collaboration

Microsoft pushes real-time collaboration

Summary: Microsoft's announcements today for its real-time communications products demonstrated the company's real strength: persistence. For the last several years, Microsoft has been working on a suite of enterprise-class collaboration tools that can be integrated into Office.

TOPICS: Microsoft

gatesMicrosoft's announcements today for its real-time communications products demonstrated the company's real strength: persistence. For the last several years, Microsoft has been working on a suite of enterprise-class collaboration tools that can be integrated into Office. Now it looks like they have something to sell.

Bill Gates hosted the event, and boiled down what he called a big milestone to one major idea: "The big thing is simplification, taking all the interfaces you have to learn and bringing it all together." Making communications and collaboration seamless has long been an Achilles' heel for Microsoft. The term "seamless" is way overused, but making software that deftly handles complex human interactions in cyberspace consistently and coherently across applications--even just Microsoft's--is the only way to get people to use (and buy) the features.

Microsoft Live Communications Server 2005 has been upgraded with new features, such as connectivity to AOL, Yahoo and MSN instant messengers (IM); federated IM with external partners and customers; and integration with SharePoint and improved management and administrative tool support. Microsoft can also extract a nice annual fee in addition to server licensing revenue. A client access license (CAL) is required, starting at $31 per user or device accessing the server. The public IM connection is about $13 to $16 per user per year.

The highlight of the announcement was the client piece, Microsoft Office Communicator 2005, which ties together communications capabilities, such as IM, presence awareness, notifications, voice, video and VoIP with productivity applications. Communicator is integrated with Outlook and Exchange Server, and via a PBX or PSTN gateway allows users to control their office phone and, based on preferences, to route calls to their cell phones or other destinations.

Communicator is due by the end of June, but pricing is not yet available. Corporate VP for the real-time collaboration group at Microsoft Anook Gupta said Communicator is the company's "preferred" client, but developers can build their own clients within the walled garden on top of Live Communications Server. Enabling applications with the presence capability is only a few lines of scripting code, Gupta said.

Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2005 is a major update for the Web conferencing software. New features include initiating a conference from within other Office applications, VoIP integration, audio conference call controls, a document viewer, and improved support for PowerPoint.

Gates and Gupta showed off the products, which included a lame Live Meeting 2005 video conference with Survivor and Apprentice creator Mark Burnett and a couple of Apprentice winners. After the demo, Gates quipped, "We got a chance to learn about some great TV shows--great stuff." Sure, Bill, we believe you.

Gates also said that Microsoft saved over $40 million in travel costs using the Web conferencing software. Microsoft didn't exactly need Live Meeting to save a sizable amount on travel expenditures. Several other companies have Web conference services that are more popular and feature-rich than

Topic: Microsoft

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  • So, just how insecure will this be?

    I notice we haven't heard much on the "Trustworthy Computing" front lately. Patch-a-month doesn't cut it.
    • Of course

      Of course -- they're too busy back porting WinFS to Windows XP
      and trying to play catch-up creating IEv7....

      Remember: garbage in, garbage out. And it's obvious
    • It's not for basement users, don't worry about it.

  • Data-centric collaboration vs screen sharing

    It is sad that Microsoft is still using screen sharing for remote collaboration when it could allow users to share Word, PPT or Excel documents in their native formats. The ability to do this would be far more beneficial to users in terms of ease-of-use, bandwidth requirements and security. InstaColl ( attempts to do just this to the Microsoft Office suite.
  • Slick tools

    on top of a spaghetti code, security vulnerable, slow an inefficent OS. I can't WAIT for Linux to kill Windoze - and force M$ to actually write GOOD applications . . .
    Roger Ramjet
    • Patience, patience.

      I hope your confidence in Windows' ultimate destruction isn't keeping you from noticing there's a competitive environment. One in which Windows is not losing substantial ground, and in which Windows is being elaborated through close connections with separate applications. (Not to mention the capabilities incorporated into Windows itself.)

      If you're not paying attention, you can be heralding small advances in Linux use while Microsoft implements All Microsoft, All the time.

      Just look at the quarterly profit statements and you'll see what the real world is doing.

      [Though the tone is facetious, the serious point is that anti-Microsoft zealots seem to be reassuring themselves while Microsoft marches along. I want to see competition with Microsoft, and this is not helpful.]
      Anton Philidor
      • I don't want M$ to die

        or ever go away. I want them to COMPETE! I want them to have the burning desire to make their products BETTER! In the early days, when Windoze had to compete against QuarterDeck and OS/2, you saw some really good things happen! Look at the IE/Netscape issue - M$ HAD that burning desire - and their IE product showed it! It started out crappy and then surpassed the leader in quality. M$ is just TOO fat and TOO dumb and TOO happy.
        Roger Ramjet
    • Your going to have a long wait, very very long.

  • Citrix GoToMeeting from Citrix Online, a division of Citrix Systems

    Picture this. You need to send some email, but first you have to get trained. And each email took 15 minutes to initiate and costs 75 cents each, plus 25 cents per recipient. Sound cumbersome and costly? That?s how the majority of online meeting services operate. Citrix Online, a division of Citrix Systems, introduced Citrix? GoToMeeting?, last summer using a ?Simpler is Better? approach. It provides all the functions necessary with its easy-to-use interface and offers a flat-fee All You Can Meet? pricing model.

    Citrix Online recently upgraded the solution to Citrix GoToMeeting Corporate 1.1 for an even simpler, faster way to meet online with up to 200 attendees per meeting, which is distinguished by an unbeatable combination of one-click online meetings, reliable performance, and easier-than-e-mail simplicity. These customer-driven enhancements are designed to cater directly to the practical needs of departments like sales and training.

    GoToMeeting has won more than 2,000 business customers since its general-availability launch in August 2004. Many in this large and rapidly growing customer base are small-to medium-sized businesses, and the majority switched from the current market share leaders.
  • Another service I which has had web collaboration for awhile

    I use AccuConference - - and it works great for our projects and team support.