Microsoft set to ship real-time collaboration client

Microsoft on Wednesday said it has completed development of its next generation instant messaging and real-time collaboration client, Office Communicator 2005, and plans to ship the software before the end of June.

Office Communicator 2005 is a major overhaul of the client software for Microsoft's real-time platform. Microsoft said Office Communicator has been released to manufacturing, which means CDs are being pressed and it should be generally available shortly.

In addition to the instant messaging capabilities, Communicator provides users with voice, video, Web conferencing and telephony in a single desktop interface.

Communicator is part of the Office System, which is Microsoft's centerpiece for real-time communication and collaboration including Outlook, Communicator, Exchange, Office, SharePoint, Live Communication Server and Live Meeting.

Communicator also is the front-end for integrating presence information with a host of Windows applications, including those in Office System. When coupled with a PBX, the client can be used to control calls, such as call forwarding and multi-call conferencing.

"You can look at this as an IM client, but it is really a much broader integrated communications client," says Ed Simnett, group product manager with the real-time collaboration group at Microsoft. "It is the right way to initiate a conference call, the right way to start a Live Meeting session, the right way to do PC-to-PC based voice and video, and it links to your enterprise phone system."

Microsoft is working with Siemens, Alcatel and Mitel to provide telephony integration.

Simnett says Communicator also is key for integrating presence information with the other applications and servers within the Office System. "The richness of presence includes not only is the person online or offline, but is the person on the phone, on a conference call, are they scheduled to be in a meeting which is an integration with the Exchange calendar, or are they out of the office. If they are out of the office you get their out-of-the-office message."

Communicator, which runs on Windows XP and Windows 2000 SP4, works in conjunction with Live Communications Server (LCS) 2005 and is a key link for integrating the server with public instant messaging services from Yahoo, AOL and MSN. In April, Microsoft released the first service pack for LCS, including a feature called Public IM Connectivity (PIC). Communicator provides the client support for PIC, although Microsoft said the current Windows Messenger 5.1 does provides limited PIC support.

In addition, users rolling out PIC will need to purchase a separate yearly license, which is priced at US$10-$12 per user or device. Also, the PIC service is only available to users with volume licensing agreements. The Communicator client access license (CAL) is priced at US$31. A separate CAL is needed for telephony integration and is also priced at US$31.

Microsoft also plans to release a Web-based version of Communicator by the end of the year that will run on Windows 9.x and non-Windows platforms and provide basic IM and presence capabilities. It also will release in the fall a mobile version of the client, including support for RIM Blackberry devices.

Microsoft is entering a corporate instant messaging market already dominated by rival IBM/Lotus and its Lotus Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing platform that has been shipping for years.

And earlier this year, AOL said it was ditching its old IM platform for a new architecture called Triton that would integrate IM, audio, video and other forms of real-time communication. In addition, AOL and Jabber announced a deal to integrate their instant messaging platforms.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Fontana

Network World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?