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Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Microsoft's Plan to Take Over IP Applications

Business 2.0 has a good article saying that New software could transform the desktop giant into the behemoth of Internet-based communications. Microsoft might have been late to the voice-over-Internet-protocol party, but now the company has a plan to take over the world of IP-based communications. In the coming months, Microsoft will likely release a new version of its instant-messaging server, Live Communications Server, and a corporate IM client code-named Istanbul.

Om Malik elaborates, by saying that the LCS/Istanbul combo is a way to cash in on the trend toward IP-based communications. Corporations are replacing old-fashioned phone systems with new VOIP systems, which treat e-mails, voice calls, and instant messages the same -- as streams of packets. LCS, though not a new product, has gone through a massive upgrade. The most significant change has been to overcome the lack of interoperability between various IM networks .This was a critical move because these are more than just IM applications that teens use. Built right into LCS is a SIP-based platform, which can be used to conduct VOIP calls. When combined with Microsoft's Istanbul, it allows users to send and receive e-mails, instant messages, and faxes, as well as control their desk phones, right from their PCs. Since LCS and Istanbul are tightly integrated with Microsoft's dominant messaging platform, Exchange, and its desktop sibling, Outlook, a user could call someone over the Internet by simply clicking on a phone number in the Outlook address book.

This combo is comparable to RIM's BlackBerry . Turn on the device, and in one screen you see e-mail, phone and text messages, and future appointments. The coolest part about Microsoft's technology is that it enables you to define how you want to communicate with your colleagues. A simple rule for dinnertime would be to make sure all phone calls go to voice-mail -except, of course, the all-important call from the boss. During a meeting the system could refuse all calls and IMs, allowing only e-mails. Send a group mail to 20 people, and with one click you could be having a conference call. This has huge implications for burgeoning markets like VOIP. Some experts believe that Microsoft will provide millions of corporate workers with their first real Internet voice experience. Emerging services like Skype could find themselves left out in the cold. Avaya could find that no one wants its expensive PBX systems. Many beleive that Microsoft will be unsuccessful in its bid. Om Malik reminds them about the fate of Lotus Notes. Almost a lifetime ago, most corporations used Lotus for their e-mail; Microsoft's rival software was a joke. Using its operating system muscle, Microsoft proved the naysayers wrong. It will again
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