Microsoft IM client released to manufacturing

Office Communicator 2005, which is designed to replace Windows Messenger, nears its final-release form.

Microsoft released its Office Communicator 2005 instant messaging client to manufacturing this week, bringing the company's real-time collaboration platform closer to being a reality for the enterprise work force.

Communicator integrates instant messaging with voice and video conferencing capabilities, and integrates with Microsoft Office applications and enterprise telephony systems. It has replaced Microsoft Windows Messenger 5.1 as the preferred desktop client with Office Live Communications Server 2005.

"We've built something which is very much designed to be deployed and used within enterprises," said Microsoft real-time communications group product manager Ed Simnett. Office Communicator integrates with public instant messaging services like AOL and Yahoo.

The product should be widely available on July 1, and evaluation copies are available on Microsoft's Web site. A Web client for Live Communications Server is expected to ship by the end of the year, along with a beta release of a mobile client.

"It's about integrated communications," Simnett said. "These products were designed very much for business users and information workers to have them manage and have more effective real-time communications. Integrated communications means not that just the communications themselves be integrated, but that the communications tools be integrated with applications."

Presence, instant messaging and audio/video capabilities are provided free to customers with Live Communications Server 2005 client access licenses. Use of the telephony features requires a Live Communications Server telephony license.

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