Microsoft to link enterprise IM server with public IM networks
The link will be provided through add-on modules sold separately
IDG News Service - In a move that advances instant messaging interoperability, Microsoft Corp. will open up communication between its enterprise IM server and the public, consumer-oriented IM networks run by its MSN division and by rivals Yahoo Inc. and America Online Inc.
Microsoft plans to announce today that Live Communications Server (LCS) 2005, due to ship during this year's fourth quarter, will allow users to exchange instant messages with users on AOL's AIM, Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger. "This has been the top request from our corporate customers. They have clearly told us that anything we could possibly do to make this happen would make them the happiest," said Taylor Collyer, Microsoft's senior director for LCS.
The link between LCS and the three IM networks will be provided through add-on modules that will be sold separately, he said. Pricing for the connectivity modules is still being worked on and will be announced later this year.
"We'll try to make it an attractive proposition. We want to put this thing within reach," Collyer said.
Until now, this type of interoperability between LCS and the three consumer IM networks could be accomplished only by cobbling together bridges using third-party gateway products, he said. Doing it that way is cumbersome and requires heavy lifting on the part of IT departments.
However, the new connectivity modules will plug into LCS natively out of the box and enable the interoperability with little configuration required. Because the modules will be designed to work with LCS specifically, the links with the public IM networks will be more stable and secure than with third-party products.
"The big winner here will be the enterprise customer," Collyer said.
Representatives from AOL and Yahoo indicated separately that the collaboration with Microsoft is a significant step for their respective IM services in the corporate market. "This will open up new opportunities for all of us," said Brian Curry, AOL's senior director of AIM network services.
"Through our relationship with Microsoft LCS, we are able to increase the distribution, usage and presence of Yahoo Messenger while providing our users with a secure, convenient and seamless experience," said Lisa Mann, Yahoo's senior director of Yahoo Messenger, in a statement.
Meanwhile, the biggest losers are the makers of IM gateway software, such as IMlogic Inc., FaceTime Communications Inc. and Akonix Systems Inc., said Robert Mahowald, an IDC analyst. These vendors have enjoyed solid sales over the past three years, thanks to the lack of interoperability in the marketplace and to the quick adoption of IM in businesses.
As employees began to use consumer-oriented IM networks for work matters,
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