Microsoft updates IM, Web conferencing
9, 2005, 9:06 AM PST
Microsoft unveiled on Tuesday a
series of upgrades to its corporate instant messaging and Web
conferencing products in a major push to sell collaboration software
The world's largest software maker
is hoping to tap into growing demand by companies that want their
employees to work together from their desks, rather than in
face-to-face meetings that can involve costly business travel.
"Communications technology is changing the
way people do information work," said Jeff Raikes, Microsoft's group
vice president in charge of the division that makes Office and other
business software. "But today, most of that communications is really
Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft is
betting more people will be swapping text messages and holding
presentations over the Internet in order to meet and collaborate on
Microsoft's new instant messaging
program for businesses, called Microsoft Office Communicator, will
be able to track whether users are online or available for a meeting
and will be able to reroute incoming messages to phones, instant
messaging programs and other avenues of communication.
Office Communicator is an enhanced
version of Windows Messenger, which is included in the Windows
operating system. Until now, Microsoft's instant messaging software
for companies has mostly been limited to messaging within corporate
networks. The company said it would begin offering an update to its
Live Communications Server that will let corporate users swap
instant messages with users in public messaging networks, including
those used by Microsoft's MSN Messenger, Yahoo Instant Messenger and
America Online's AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM, product.
The key, Raikes said, is "getting
everyone on the same page across an organization and across
Finally, Microsoft unveiled a new
version of its Web conferencing program and service, called Office
Live Meeting. That program is based on software Microsoft acquired
along with PlaceWare in 2003.
"When we did the PlaceWare acquisition, our bet was that this was
going to be a huge area," Raikes said.
Companies are turning to Web
conferencing to save on costs, Raikes said, adding that Microsoft
saved more than $40 million on business-travel-related costs by
using Live Meeting internally.
Microsoft, which is seeing slower
revenue growth as its top line approaches $40 billion per year, is
hoping to kick-start growth in Windows and Office, its most mature