Microsoft Corp., America Online, Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. have announced a collaborative effort to enable connectivity between Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 and the largest public instant messaging (IM) networks in the world: AOL, MSN and Yahoo!
Building on the recent announcement that Live Communications Server 2005 will enable organizations to more securely communicate in real time with other organizations that also have deployed Live Communications Server 2005 in the enterprise, thereby enabling them to IM and view presence information, the idea is to empower businesses to extend their reach to the more than 400 million global customers, partners and vendors using these other IM services. The company says this combination is the next step in making EIM (Enterprise IM) as widespread and beneficial as e-mail.
"In much the same way that e-mail significantly has changed today's business landscape, instant messaging is becoming just as ubiquitous in organizations. Businesses are inquiring about ways to extend enterprise IM systems beyond network borders to empower their employees to more securely connect with customers, partners, family and friends," said Anoop Gupta, corporate vice president of the Real-Time Collaboration Business Unit at Microsoft. "Our enterprise customers' No. 1 request has been to enable connectivity with major public IM networks. The ability of Live Communications Server 2005 to connect with these three consumer IM networks -- AOL, MSN and Yahoo! -- delivers on that request."
"One hundred thirty million MSN Messenger customers worldwide already use MSN Messenger to communicate with their friends and family, but many also have a need to communicate broadly in their professional roles as well," said Blake Irving, corporate vice president of the MSN Communication Services and Member Platform Group at Microsoft. "The connectivity enabled by Live Communications Server 2005 will give professionals and organizations the tools they need to communicate more effectively both inside and outside the workplace."
Key features of Live Communications Server 2005 include these:
Presence. Live Communications Server incorporates presence capabilities into productivity and line-of-business applications in the enterprise. All participating users will be able to see whether someone is online and available.
Encrypted instant messaging. Live Communications Server provides easy-to-use and familiar text-based messaging in an encrypted and authenticated environment.
Standards-based architecture. Live Communications Server is built using industry-standard protocols Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE), enabling a broad partner and developer ecosystem.
Microsoft Office System integration. Live Communications Server acts as a "presence engine" behind the Microsoft Office System, enabling out-of-the-box presence integration with Microsoft Office System applications, servers and services. Live Communications Server also enables the viewing of presence information directly from Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, Microsoft Office Excel and Microsoft Office Word as well as team sites and portals, such as Windows SharePoint Services.
Microsoft Office Live Meeting Integration. Live Communications Server users can instantly initiate a multiparty Web conference via Live Meeting from within an IM conversation.
Live Communications Server 2005 is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2004. At that time, customers will be able to try the connectivity offering to the AOL, MSN and Yahoo! IM networks.