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10/20/2006
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Microsoft Readies Audio-Visual Conferencing Platform

Microsoft has developed an audio and video teleconference system known as RoundTable that will begin shipping next year.

Microsoft Corp. has developed an audio and video teleconference system known as RoundTable that will begin shipping mid-2007, the company said Friday.

RoundTable works with Office Communications Server 2007 and Office Live Meeting, allowing companies to integrate virtual presentations, shared whiteboards and file sharing into audio and video conferences.

The table-top camera device about the size of a traditional speaker phone connects to a standard PC. The camera creates a 360-degree panoramic view displaying side-by-side digital images of each conference participant.

The images are captured in high-resolution from around the room and fed through a PC. The software tracks the flow of conversation, so image and audio of the person speaking are seen. People across many locations can attend the virtual meetings.

Along with virtual face-to-face meetings, RoundTable sessions are recordable for viewing at a later time.

About 100 RoundTable platforms are being tested at Microsoft facilities in China, India, and Redmond, Wash., as well companies in certain partner programs via which about 19 companies with more than 7 million employees will have tried the platform before it's released next year.

Microsoft said RoundTable should retail for less than $3,000.

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