CommuniGate launches Flash-based Pronto

Client is one of the first rich Internet applications for unified communications

Unified communications (UC) vendors continue to pile on new products as UC begins to include more high-tech categories in its feature set.

This week, CommuniGate Systems announced its latest version of Pronto, one of the first RIA (rich Internet application) UC client solutions. Unlike other UC client interfaces, Pronto is an Internet-based application built on Adobe Flex using Adobe Flash Player 9 as the client delivery mechanism.

"Using Adobe sets CommuniGate apart because it is based in Flash, an enterprise-caliber rich solution," said Chris Swenson, director of software analysis at the NPD Group. Currently, most solutions are fat clients that must be downloaded and run as a client/server application.

While Pronto is lightweight and can be piped in through the browser, it faces the same challenges as other RIAs in that users will not have access offline. However, the problem is being whittled away, said Swenson. as witnessed by Google Gears and Adobe Air, formerly known as Adobe Apollo, two solutions that promise to offer offline capabilities for online applications.

UC is becoming an "imperial" category, said Swenson, as it begins to accommodate more and more technologies.

"From sales data, we can see that in terms of dollar volume growth, unified communications as a category won't stop anytime soon," said Swenson.

Swenson's designation of "imperial" is a reference to economics as the "imperial science" because it takes in all other social sciences.

Among the new features included in Pronto version 1.2 are click-to-call capability from Pronto contacts, and the ability to merge and view simultaneously multiple calendars.

"If you are using a sales group calendar, a company calendar, and a personal calendar, you can merge them visually just by pressing Merge," said John Doyle, vice president of business development at CommuniGate Systems.

Other features included are a new IM indicator, browser integration, and IM roster management.

Doyle also hinted at future versions, saying that if Adobe launched a suite of desktop productivity applications, as the Web keeps buzzing about, users would be able to merge those solutions with Pronto's Flex- and Flash-based UC capabilities.

The Pronto IM client uses the open source protocol, the calendar is compatible with Microsoft Outlook, and the VoIP messaging and management component is SIP-based and will work with SIP-based carriers. The client also includes a built-in audio and video player, an RSS feed, and a photo editor.

Pricing starts at US$89 for 25 users.

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Ephraim Schwartz

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