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8/24/2005
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Microsoft Beefs Up Developer Tools For Collaborative Apps

The goal is to make it easier to combine collaborative applications created via Microsoft Office Live Communications Server with line-of-business software.

Microsoft today introduced control tools and new sample code for Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005, that are geared to make it easier for developers to combine presence and real-time collaboration capabilities with line-of-business applications. The tools are embedded in Microsoft Visual Studio.

"Enterprise users are looking for truly integrated communications tools," said product manager Ed Simnett, "which really means integrating presence and messaging into their enterprise applications." He added that the new product, formally called Presence Controls for Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 being announced today is designed to do just that.

Presence Controls enable developers using the Microsoft Visual Studio development system to easily insert presence icons into applications. In operation, they will provide status information of contacts. In addition, the context menu within the icons provides integration with Microsoft Office Communicator 2005, which allows users of the application to launch Communicator’s instant messaging conversation or telephone call window.

"It doesn't matter whether the user is a native LCS 2005 client or is using an outside instant messaging system, such as AIM or MSN Messenger," said Simnett, "as long as he is properly certified within the LCS environment, the conversation can go on."

Presence Controls for Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 are available for download from the Microsoft site now. Software providers, including BrightWork, K2.net, Meridio Inc., OSIsoft Inc., Siebel Systems Inc. and Singularity Ltd., are already using the controls to integrate presence and real-time collaboration features into their applications.

In the same announcement, Microsoft included two applications that are usable extensions of the Microsoft Office Communicator and LCS 2005 environments, as well as examples of how to use the new Presence Controls. The first is what the company is calling the "Role Agent". This device enables a single user message a query to a pre-defined list of users, and a member of that list can respond.

While Role Agent is usable for such things as technical support, the Custom Alerting application inverts the process by enabling announcements to be sent out to groups of users. Examples are new changes in corporate policy or physical issues regarding an office building.


Those wanting to learn more about the Presence Controls for Microsoft Office Communicator and samples for Role Agent should go to the Microsoft Office Live Communications Server Partner Solutions site. Customer Alerting Application samples will be available this week.

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