Auctioneers are to be among the first users in Britain of new technology running call centres on Windows NT. The Auction Channel will give the world's first public showing of an Interactive Bidding System (IBS) built on Microsoft BackOffice, call centre and clustering software this Thursday at the Brooks sale of classic cars. The Auction Channel, which officially launches in early 1998, will offer live television coverage of auctions and allow viewers to bid for items from their armchairs. With IBS, viewers can make their bids over the telephone. It is the first application from a new UK company called Realtime Interactive. The software uses Windows NT 4.0 Servers, each preconfigured with four Dialogic interactive voice response cards, allowing them to handle up to 120 simultaneous calls. Realtime Interactive has developed C++ classes using Microsoft Visual C++ 5.0 to talk directly to the Dialogic cards within NT. The software captures key presses from a touch-tone telephone entered by a bidder and passes them on to an array of central auction servers which processes these key press commands. All information from the system is stored on a Microsoft SQL Server 6.5 relational database. The database is used to store a list of users registered to bid together with the entire set of audit and logging information from an auction. Bidding information is relayed to NT Workstations used by auctioneers. Existing call centre systems usually run on mainframes. The use of NT in this environment is a boost to Microsoft's push into the enterprise operating system market.
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