Apparently, the Office 2003 suite won't be the only thing that Microsoft is sending to manufacturing later this week.
Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003 is also expected to be released to manufacturing, said sources familiar with the company's plans. Microsoft declined to comment on the date but did, on Monday, release pricing information.
The Live Communications Server 2003 list price is $929, and the client access license will be $34.95, according to Ed Simnett, lead product manager for Live Communications Server 2003.
There are a number of volume-licensing discounts. Customers in the Software Assurance licensing program won't have to pay a fee because the new product is a replacement for technology in Exchange 2000. Live Communications Server 2003 is covered by that previous licensing fee, Simnett said.
Since last fall, Live Communications Server has undergone several name changes and has also become part of the Office 2003 system. The software, which was code-named Greenwich, is designed to appeal to three different sets of users, Simnett said. First, the application provides instant messaging and presence awareness for information workers. Second, for IT professionals it will provide a way to bring a "rogue" application into the corporate infrastructure.
And independent software vendors and Microsoft partners will look to use the product's APIs to build products on top of the Live Communications Server.
"We've focused on Office integration," Simnett said. "That's where customers will see value -- they'll see where it all fits together."
The server software uses the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) for instant messaging, and SIP for Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE) for presence information.
One analyst said the server may provide an option for IT professionals who have been trying to figure out what to do with consumer IM. This gives them something they can launch from a Windows environment.
"There are other products out there, such as FaceTime and Jabber, but IT folks don't like bringing in new applications for the heck of it," said Mark Levitt, a research vice president at International Data Corp., a Framingham, Mass.-based market research firm.
"Now they can deploy IM as part of a corporate architecture," Levitt said. "It's a smaller step."
Though Microsoft has said that Live Communications Server 2003, along with the rest of the Office Suite, will be available before the end of the year, speculation is that the launch will be in mid-October, said sources familiar with Microsoft's plans.
The first version of Live Communications Server 2003 is far less ambitious than what was put forth by Microsoft when Greenwich was first discussed about a year ago. "They thought that by the first 'rev' they would have something beyond IM," said Robert Mahowald, a research manager at IDC. "But I think the vision doesn't match what they currently have today."
"Microsoft is hoping to have a conferencing 'lite' function in the next version," he said. "The first version will have file sharing and IM, but eventually it will include application sharing, voice and video."
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