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8/25/2005
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Microsoft Posts Sample IM, Presence Code

Throwing more fuel on the instant-messaging fire, Microsoft on Thursday released sample code and new controls to show how IM and presence can be integrated into everyday business applications.

Microsoft is throwing more fuel on the instant-messaging fire.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company on Thursday released sample code and new controls to show how IM and presence can be integrated into everyday business applications. The releases aren’t new code or new products per se, but proof-of-concept tools for developers and VARs to show how line-of-business applications can be fortified with Microsoft Live Communication Server on the back end, said Marc Sanders, senior product manager for Microsoft's realtime collaboration group.

The samples and controls are available at this Microsoft site. All of the tools assume the presence (pardon the pun) of Office Realtime Communicator 2005 and Live Communication Server 2005.

For instance, the role agent sample enables developers to assign an IM handle to a given role within a business. That means customers or PC users can ping the help-desk role or customer service with questions.

"The agent acts as a bot to contact one of those online people and bring them into the conversation," Sanders said.

Alerts also can be created, according to Jeff Shuey, global alliance manager at K2.net, a workflow ISV based in Redmond. “An alerting control could be set up so that if an event fires--something as simple as a purchase order needing a signature or as critical as [an actual fire]--something has to happen. Who's online now, and who's most appropriate?" Shuey said.

These ActiveX controls can be used from within the Visual Studio tool box. "The business value is using presence to find people and get business questions answered quickly," Sanders said.

It has been a big week for instant messaging. In what has become a ritual, Google and Microsoft traded IM news on Wednesday, with Google rolling out its long-rumored Google Talk IM and VoIP client. Microsoft in turn released MSN Messenger 7.5, which has improved voice capability and a new audio-clip feature.

In addition, Oracle made available its delayed Oracle Collaboration Suite 10g, now with integrated IM.

To date, IBM Lotus has led the field in enterprise IM with its business-focused Sametime messaging software.

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