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MS posts NetMeeting 2.0 beta

Microsoft has posted the first beta of its NetMeeting 2.0 WWW multi-point conferencing software for free downloading.

NetMeeting 2.0 adds support for the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) H.323 standard that brings together most current conferencing systems so that users can exchange data and work simultaneously on documents across telephony clients (including Intel's Internet Phone)and communications services.

The user interface has been redesigned with a new toolbar that is close to Microsoft's Internet Explorer 3.0 and the inclusion of the User Location Service directory view in the NetMeeting window. Windows NT Workstation 4.0 as well as Windows 95 support is also included for the first time.

The full version of NetMeeting 2.0 is scheduled for availability by April 1997 with Apple Macintosh support expected later in the year.

A Microsoft spokesman said it is too early to gauge uptake of NetMeeting and competing products such as CoolTalk, the conferencing software bundled with Netscape Navigator.