Microsoft Corp. today announced the opening of the beta program for Microsoft® Office Live Communications Server 2005, or LCS 2005, previously code-named “Vienna.” LCS 2005, a next-generation enterprise instant messaging (IM) and presence-awareness server, will be a significant next step toward Microsoft’s vision of seamlessly connecting people, information and business processes in real time to increase productivity and enable better decisions faster.
LCS 2005 builds on the foundation of the current version, LCS 2003, which provides a standards-based enterprise IM solution and an extensible real-time collaboration platform. Foundation elements include these:
*Presence. LCS incorporates presence capabilities into productivity and line-of-business applications within the enterprise. All participating users will be able to see whether someone is online and available.
*Encrypted instant messaging. LCS provides easy-to-use and familiar text-based messaging within an encrypted and authenticated environment.
*Microsoft Office System integration. LCS acts as a “presence engine” behind the Microsoft Office System, enabling out-of-the-box presence integration within Microsoft Office System applications, servers and services. LCS also enables the viewing of presence information directly from Microsoft Outlook® 2003, Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word as well as team sites and portals, such as Windows® SharePoint™ Services.
*Standards-based architecture. LCS is built using industry-standard protocols Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and SIP Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions (SIMPLE), enabling a broad partner and developer ecosystem.
“Live Communications Server 2003 was our first step in revolutionizing the way information workers leveraged presence information to communicate in real time and within the context of the business productivity applications, servers and services that make up the Microsoft Office System,” said Gurdeep Singh Pall, general manager of the Live Communications Group at Microsoft. “The value of IM and presence significantly increases as more users are added to the network, and Live Communications Server 2005 will enable customers to extend the benefits of real-time communications to a broader set of stakeholders such as partners, suppliers and customers, enabling them to make better decisions faster within a more secure and managed environment.”
Key enhancements in LCS 2005 include these:
*LCS Federation (between organizations). Presence information and IM now can be extended to partners, suppliers and customers, enabling more efficient collaboration and a channel for bringing geographically dispersed people together. Two or more organizations will be able to communicate and collaborate in real time, in an encrypted, authenticated and managed environment.
*Outside access solution. End users now can connect to presence and IM capabilities when they are outside the corporate network, whether working from home or on the road, or visiting customers or partners. Access is provided in a more secure and authenticated manner through the use of standard firewall ports, without requiring the establishment of a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
*Improved architecture. Customers can now benefit from substantially improved reliability, availability and scalability allowing them to recover gracefully from unplanned downtime, and delivering a higher level of availability through a tiered architecture. Deeper management options and administrative tools also have been added to reduce overall management time while increasing the level of control available to the administrator.
The LCS 2005 beta program is open for nominations starting today. Those interested in participating should contact their Microsoft account manager or sales representative for instructions on how to nominate their organization.
LCS 2005 is scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2004. Customers who have received LCS 2003 grants as part of their Exchange 2003 Enterprise Agreements or Software Assurance Agreements may be entitled to LCS 2005 within the context of their current agreement. In addition, customers who obtained LCS 2003 along with Software Assurance for LCS 2003 are eligible for LCS 2005. Customers should contact their Microsoft account manager or representative for more details.