MS Readies Web-Based Communicator

Microsoft is extending Office Communicator 2005 to the Web beginning with a private beta of a Web-based client that is expected to enter testing on July 15th. The online client will increase the portability of Communicator, which is the successor to Windows Messenger.

Communicator merges real-time communications, voice, video, telephony and Web conferencing capabilities into Office by integrating with Live Communications Server much in the same way that Outlook plugs into Exchange. The Web-based client is said to be similar to Microsoft's Outlook Web Access service, and is named "Office Communicator Web Access."

What's more, Microsoft is using the client to broaden its presence sharing capabilities while rivals including America Online (AOL) are endeavoring to do the same.

In April, AOL announced its AOL Enterprise Federation Partner (EFP) program, providing certified access to its IM networks and the AOL Federation Gateway. In turn, partners such as Antepo, Jabber, Omnipod and Parlano will build enterprise solutions that employ AOL technology.

"Extending the capabilities of Office Communicator to Web clients gives information workers - regardless of location or platform - the ability to immediately locate, contact, and collaborate with colleagues in real-time," Anoop Gupta, corporate vice president of the Real-Time Collaboration Group at Microsoft, said during his keynote address at the Collaboration Technologies Conference in New York.

"This is another significant step toward ubiquitous access to rich presence and an integrated communications experience."

The finished Office Communicator Web Access product is projected to be ready to ship by year's end.

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