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Microsoft exec chimes in on corporate IM

Sometime following the late-April launch of Windows Server 2003, Microsoft will introduce its real-time communication technology, code-named Greenwich, which will become part of the server platform. The beta version of Greenwich will be released Friday. Like IBM, Yahoo and others, Microsoft is evolving instant messaging (IM) from a cool tool for socializing on the Web to something that will become a part of every application. Ed Simnett, lead product manager for Windows Server 2003, talked about the next phase of IM.

Do you think Windows administrators will need to prove a return on investment for IM? It will depend. Some enterprises...

are already assuming instant messaging will happen. So for them, it's a question of what is the right solution. 'We know we will need it.' Others are still taking another view; [senior managers are saying] 'no, we want you to justify this.' What we are seeing in customers is, when they do get public IM turned off, the business unit starts screaming. [IT] is not even aware that the business unit is using public IM. The core of an IM solution is around security, manageability and around a standards-based extensible platform. So from a Windows management point of view, Windows is the best platform to provide a secure, manageable solution. And the Greenwich solution relies heavily on that. Is there anywhere where you feel IBM/Lotus may still have an advantage in IM? I'll just say that a standards-based extensible platform is extremely important. We were excited to see them adopt SIP and Simple for their interoperability. Will the new Greenwich client be backward-compatible with the client customers are using today? Greenwich will use Windows Messenger as its client. They won't have to start over from scratch, though it's not to say there might not be a refresh of the client. What's the best thing a Windows administrator can do to prepare for corporate IM? From a Windows point of view, they should have an Active Directory ready. That's something in which we see value way above Windows instant messaging because it forms the basis of a lot of Windows management systems. Someone who already has rolled out Exchange 2000 is in great shape. They are well prepared, whether it's the existing Exchange, the future Greenwich stuff, or something from our competitors. Which applications will be the first to benefit from IM? It will be one of three things: integration into information worker applications, peer-to-peer data collaboration and voice. We find PC-to-PC voice will be compelling. We've found that people [are] using the PC for more and more of their communications, and extending that into real-time voice is important. The theme is linking what information workers do day to day.


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