New Communicator Add-in for Outlook

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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New Communicator Add-in for Outlook

Last night I received an email from Microsoft allowing Microsoft MVPs to play with a new Communicator Add-in for Outlook. It's pre-release so playing with this new software is "invitation only". I tried to download the new version so I can include some screenshots, but Microsoft hasn't activated my Windows Live account yet. So stay tuned... (image to right is the Office Communicator client)

In the meantime, here's what's new followed by some of my other thoughts...

Fixes & Updates:
  • UI
  • Created a TreeView instead of ListView. This allows collapsible\expandable groups, just as in Communicator. I think this is a better approach than having an option to display certain groups.
  • Smaller UI details.
  • Fix UI for 120 DPI

  • Allow filter of Offline & Away users. Will redisplay users when they are available again or will hide users if they are away or offline. Dependant on the you setting the filter.
  • Will display groups that contain a “~”

Limitations due to API
  • The API doesn’t give me access to Access Level or Distributions List.
  • The API doesn’t give me access to the Recent or Other Contacts Groups.

  • The Show\Hide button doesn’t always respond.
  • “Out of Office” is being considered as Away instead of Offline.
  • Graceful error handling, IE if Communicator isn’t signed in.

Install Instructions:
A.) Uninstall Previous Version
1.) Extract it the zip to some where besides the desktop.
I’m using ClickOnce for installation, so the install should go somewhere you want it to reside.

2.) Close Outlook

3.) Run the setup.exe as Administrator. It will require .NET 3.5 & VSTO 3.0 Runtime. The installer will help you out there.

4.) During installation it will say it’s not from a Trusted Publisher as I do not have a certificate for this installation. Click Ok.

5.) Open Outlook

Even more interesting is that Microsoft said, "It'll publically available in a week or so as an open source project". Open source? Wow! I assume Microsoft is only open sourcing the Communicator Add-in for Outlook and not the entire Communicator client - or even the entire Office Communications Server 2007 software. Now that would be earth-shattering! Still, any time Microsoft makes their code open source, that's a good thing.

On a related note, I've noticed that the Communicator client doesn't play 'nice' with other TAPI applications. I was using the Fonality HUD client and their HUDTAPI Telephony Service provider to make calls to Microsoft Outlook Contacts. That is, I was right-clicking a Microsoft Outlook Contact and then choosing 'Call Contact' but the call was intercepted by Communicator. I had to close the Communicator client in order for the call to be routed through the HUDTAPI service to the HUD client. Very annoying...

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