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RealTime IT News

Greenwich Renamed Again

Only months after giving the Office Real-Time Communications Server 2003 (formerly Greenwich) its official moniker, Microsoft switched things up with a new name for both it and the recently acquired PlaceWare Conference Center.

Both products, which make up Microsoft's Real-Time Collaboration Business Unit, have added the word 'Live' to their names, which Microsoft said better communicates the value of the products to its customers. Office Real-Time Communications Server 2003 will now be the Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003. PlaceWare Conference Center will take on the name Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2003, bringing it in line with the rest of the Office brand.

"Our customers told us they could better understand and relate to 'Live' and associated it with the potential to do more things while connecting with other people," said Dustin Grosse, senior director of marketing for the Real-Time Collaboration Business Unit. "The new name reinforces Microsoft's commitment to help businesses realize their potential by achieving optimal efficiency, productivity and agility."

PlaceWare Conference Center, now Live Meeting, is a real-time multimedia platform and application service for Web-based communication and collaboration. The current version of the software lets companies create virtual "meetings" with up to 2,500 attendees. Additionally, PlaceWare, now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Microsoft and part of its Information Worker Group, offers a Conference Center service, which includes a Web-based platform for uploading and delivering business presentations. The company also offers services such as project management, event coordination, and presenter training.

Microsoft said Live Meeting will continue to offer the PlaceWare feature set, with future versions adding functionality and capabilities.

The RTC Server, now Live Communications Server, is intended to provide secure, enterprise instant messaging and presence -- the ability to detect whether a user is online and available. It is also geared to be a platform for emerging communications technologies: Internet telephony, application sharing, and video conferencing.

The Live Communications Server is built on the Session Initiation Protocol , or SIP, a technology designed to foster communication streams in a variety of different modes, ranging from instant messaging to VoIP .

When Live Communications Server ships in the third quarter, Microsoft plans to offer APIs for syndicating presence information as a free add-on for Windows Server 2003, allowing ISVs and enterprises to embed RTC Server-based presence in Web pages and to create new applications based on the technology.

The product's presence capabilities will allow a user who receives an email in Outlook 2003 to see whether the sender is online and available. If so, the user will be able to initiate an instant messaging conversation from within Outlook. Microsoft is also pointing to the power of integrating its Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 with Live Communications Server, allowing information workers working in a portal to see the presence of teammates and initiate instant collaboration sessions in the portal environment.

Together, SharePoint Portal Server, SharePoint Services and Live Communications Server will provide site-based collaboration that's tied into Office 2003's core applications -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and Outlook -- while also offering up embedded IM and alerting.

A user can register peers' IM handles in the Outlook Contact List, and special field in Word, Excel, and the other applications will reflect colleagues' availability, with each application capable of spawning an IM session.