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Pricing for 'real-time' tools to be revealed in August

Microsoft has added the word "live" to the name of its real-time communications software. Licensing and pricing information is expected to be released in mid-August.

Microsoft is slowly dribbling out the details of yet another new product. This time it's the real-time communications server.

The software company said this week it has renamed its Microsoft Office Real-Time Communications Server 2003. The product will now be known as the Microsoft Office Live Communications Server. The company said it will release licensing and pricing information in mid-August, in advance of the product's autumn availability date.

Real-time communication technology, particularly instant messaging, is of interest to customers, particularly as it gets woven into other applications. It's not clear how fast the server will sell, because it requires Windows Server 2003, which most enterprises do not have.

Customers like Christopher Gervais, a technologist at Partners HealthCare System Inc., Boston, are looking at ways to introduce real-time communications into the enterprise, particularly in conjunction with certain Office applications. But Partners won't consider buying Windows Server 2003 until next year. "For those of us who invested in Windows 2000, [real-time communications] is not enough of a carrot to get us to flip," Gervais said.

The adoption of real-time technology will be a long-term process, but the first step is to get developers juiced so they will build applications. That in turn should create some demand and entice people to upgrade, said Dana Gardner, an analyst at the Yankee Group, a Boston consultancy.

Gardner said that the recent changing of the naming convention to include Office reinforces how Office has become the pivot point upon which many other Microsoft systems must react.


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