MS to Beta Communicator Web Access

Microsoft is in search of customers to evaluate its upcoming Microsoft Office Communicator Web Access add-on to Live Communications Server 2005 (LCS). A beta is expected within the next 30 days.

Communicator Web Access, code-named Budapest, extends the full capabilities and presence of LCS to the Web for users that cannot install or easily access the Office Communicator client. Microsoft says that Budapest will be cross platform and compatible with most commonly used Web browsers.

During the beta, testers will be asked to decide whether or not cross platform and cross browser support, as well as whether the interface and management options, are acceptable. The interface of Communicator Web Access is a replica of the desktop client.

The Web based extension of Office Communicator was first announced by Anoop Gupta, corporate vice president of the Real-Time Collaboration Group at Microsoft during a keynote address at the Collaboration Technologies Conference in New York.

Budapest will provide real-time instant messaging coupled with presence. It is not yet expected to have the full range of features that can be found in the desktop software. The Web-based client is said to be structurally similar to Microsoft's Outlook Web Access service.

On the desktop, Communicator links IM, voice, video, IP telephony and Web conferencing capabilities into Office by integrating with Live Communications Server in the same way that Outlook plugs into Exchange Server.

A general release of Microsoft Office Communicator Web Access is expected some time in the second half of the 2005 calendar year.

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