Microsoft chairman Bill Gates yesterday showed off newly developed versions of the company's Office real-time collaboration offerings.
In a bid to improve the collaboration functionality of its software Gates promised that Microsoft will build presence awareness into all future applications to integrate modes of communication including email, phone, instant messaging, SMS, video conferencing and web conferencing.
This integration will, according to Gates, allow transition from one mode of communication to another and manage communications within the context of a person's availability and preferences.
"We have lots of ways to connect with people using technology, but there are countless opportunities to make them smarter and more efficient," he said.
"With these solutions we can use the power of software to simplify the way we communicate, offering a greater sense of presence, a more unified experience and a more secure and trusted environment."
Microsoft's integrated communications effort will deliver functionality including rich presence awareness designed to offer staff a view of the context and availability of a person before initiating communications.
Gates promised that the initiative will deliver a combination of customisable clients, extensible servers and services that enable integrated communications.
Microsoft executives also demonstrated the latest Office system real-time collaboration products and services including Microsoft Office Communicator 2005, previously codenamed Istanbul.
This integrated communications application was touted as the best client for Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005.
Also unveiled at yesterday's event was the Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005 Service Pack, which includes support for Communicator, enhanced spam-over-IM, or 'spim', controls and improved connectivity for users of IM networks including MSN, AOL and Yahoo.
Gates also showed off Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2005, a "major update" to the firm's web conferencing service. Enhancements include integrated conference call controls, the ability to have a Live Meeting session from Office applications, and availability in seven languages.
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