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Nortel App Lets Microsoft Outlook Users Manage Calls

Nortel's Multimedia Office Client will be available as a standalone application that's integrated into Outlook 2003 as a toolbar. The client can be used to manage different forms of communication, such as voice, video, and text.

Much of the buzz in networking circles these days is about integrating voice, video, and messaging. Users of Microsoft Office Outlook will soon be able to manage and personalize these services with a new multimedia plug-in that Nortel Networks introduced at this week's Supercomm show in Chicago.

Nortel's Multimedia Office Client will be available as a standalone application that's integrated into Outlook 2003 as a toolbar. The client can be used to manage different forms of communication such as voice, video, and text. It also can be used to initiate calls from a desktop phone or by clicking on a contact name in Outlook.

Multimedia Office Client can be used with existing Centrex and corporate voice systems, Nortel says.

More than 400 million people worldwide use Outlook, Nortel says. With the new client, Outlook users will be able to manage their incoming calls through options to answer, reject, or transfer calls and to access voice mail using a single Web-based interface. Additionally, it comes with a "presence" feature, which shows whether a person is on the phone or available.

Nortel says the new application fits into voice-over-IP strategies. When evaluating VoIP, "[businesses] want easy Web-page configuration, quick access at voice mail, and that kind of flexibility," says Current Analysis analyst Brian Washburn.

Businesses can deploy the client on their own or as a hosted service. Beta customers are currently testing the product and it will be generally available on Nortel's Multimedia Communication Server 5100 and 5200 in the fourth quarter of this year.

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