Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005

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Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005

The next version of Microsoft's enterprise instant messaging and presence server called Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 will be available on Dec. 1, Microsoft stated late on Monday. LCS 2005 was released to manufacturing on Friday to meet this availability.

It will come in both an enterprise edition as well as a standard version. While the basic functionality the same in both editions, the enterprise option supports more users, provides load balancing and server clustering, and includes more management features, said Dennis Karlinsky, the lead product manager for LCS. While the standard edition supports as many as 15,000 active users per server, the enterprise edition can support as many as 20,000 per server. The enterprise version can be extended to 100,000 users by clustering five servers. The enterprise edition requires a full SQL Server database, while the standard version includes a lightweight, embedded version of SQL Server.

Some of the new features in LCS 2005 include federation, which allows an enterprise to connect its IM and presence with other organizations running LCS 2005, as well as the ability for remote user to connect without a VPN. Additional enhancements in LCS 2005 include improvements to the server's tiered architecture that are designed to provide customers with better reliability, availability and scalability. Microsoft has also included additional management options and administrative tools.

Microsoft is busily working on extending the future feature-set to LCS as well. It is working to connect LCS 2005 with the leading IM networks, specifically AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger. Microsoft expects to begin testing the integration by the end of the year and to make it available as an additional license early next year, Karlinsky said.

Currently, LCS runs with the Windows Messenger 5.1 client., however Microsoft announced last week a new client, code-named Istanbul, that will incorporate VoIP (voice over IP) capabilities. Istanbul is slated for availability in the first half of 2005.

Anoop Gupta - Corporate VP, Real-Time Collaboration Bus. Unit, Microsoft

Anoop Gupta - Corporate VP, Real-Time Collaboration Bus. Unit, Microsoft

"Istanbul is a richer client with richer capabilities," said Anoop Gupta, corporate vice president in Microsoft's Real-Time Collaboration Business Unit. Istanbul allows for the searching of corporate and Outlook address books, letting users see other users' presence information, including out-of-office information from the Exchange server. Integration with SIP/SIMPLE-based technologies is planned, however Gupta said a third-party gateway would be required to connect Istanbul with XMPP (Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol)-based messaging technologies such as Jabber.

LCS 2005 will be made available through retail and volume licensing channels, and evaluation versions will be available in late November 2004. Volume pricing for LCS 2005 starts at $750 per server for the standard edition and $3,000 per server for the enterprise edition.

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