Snapshot: Microsoft Communicator

Vendor Name: Microsoft
Date of Publication: March 8, 2005
Authors: David Ferris, Lee Benjamin, Nick Shelness, David Via
Source of Information: Gurdeep Singh Pall, Corporate Vice President, RTC Business Group
Quick Summary of Communicator: Windows client providing IM, audio, video, data collaboration, telephony. Its development codename was "Istanbul".

Company Statistics

· # Full-Time Product Development Staff. Undisclosed.
· Stock Market Status: Public, MSFT
· Revenues: Product not yet released.
· # Live Paying Customer Seats: Product not yet released.

Communicator

Product Name: Microsoft Office Communicator 2005
Product Functionality:
· Preferred client software for Live Communications Server 2005.
· Integrates IM, voice, video, telephony, conference calling, Web conferencing.
· Similar look-and-feel to MS Office applications and integrates with them.
· Point-to-point SIP-based VoIP and video conversations.
· Integrates with major PBXs for on/off hook presence status and phone control through partner solutions from initially: Siemens, Alcatel Genesys, and Mitel.
· Integrates with Microsoft Office Live Meeting audio.
Platforms: Windows XP is the primary supported OS.
Competition: IBM Lotus Instant Messaging and Web Conferencing, Trillian, Jabber, OmniPod
Release Date: 2Q2005.
Pricing: Not yet available.
Main Plans–Next 12 Months: Not being discussed at this time.
Special Characteristics Claimed by Vendor: The vendor emphasizes strengths in the following areas:
· Integration of Exchange provided calendar and LCS 2005 provided presence information, eg you can see the next available meeting time and out-of-office information. Also, incoming communications can be routed based on presence and personal preferences.
· Access to Exchange email (an alternative to Outlook).
· Integrates IM, voice, video, telephony, conference calling, Web conferencing. It’s easy to initiate sessions and move between communications methods.
· Interfaces via LCS 2005 SP1 to leading public IM services.
· Integration with MS Office.
For Further Information. www.microsoft.com/office/rtc/client.mspx

Other Ferris Research Comments

· Many people may be confused about the difference between Microsoft’s other instant messaging clients and Microsoft Office Communicator. Our sense is that Communicator will primarily positioned as an enterprise client versus MSN Messenger as the consumer client.
· Live Communication Server currently uses only Windows Messenger (included with Windows XP and LCS) as a client. When Communicator is available it will replace Windows Messenger as the preferred integrated communications client for LCS. However LCS will also support Windows Messenger. Our sense is that Windows Messenger will gradually fall into disuse.
· Communicator, in conjunction with LCS 2005 SP1, is the first officially supported enterprise solution for users to access all three public instant messaging services with a single client interface. This service is known as Public IM Connectivity (PIC). PIC will require a separate per-user, per-month service license for each user of the service.
· LCS 2005, the complementary server to Office Communicator, remains a one-to-one collaboration tool. We assume that Office Communicator will not support multi-party chat or collaboration features except possibly in conjunction with Microsoft’s Live Meeting service.
· Communicator is the name of a Netscape product. One wonders if this will also cause any confusion.
· Licensees of Exchange 2000 (which had IM built-in) were grandfathered into LCS 2003 CALs only if they had Software Assurance. This remains the case.

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