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Microsoft To Build Web-Based 'Communicator'

Details are sketchy on Communicator Web Access, due to beta this summer. Sources say not to expect VoIP, but the software will run on non-Microsoft browsers.
Microsoft is working on a Web client for its real-time chat capabilities.

Plans for Communicator Web Access were announced by Anoop Gupta, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Real-Time Collaboration Group in New York on Tuesday.

The browser-based client is slated to go to beta this summer, Microsoft said. Details beyond that were not forthcoming. A spokeswoman would not say whether the upcoming client would support non Microsoft browsers or whether it would support the full range of Communicator talents beyond chat including VoIP. Gupta basically issued a statement of direction during a panel at a collaboration show, the spokeswoman said.

But other sources say the plan is for CWA to support browsers beyond Microsoft Internet Explorer and thus non-Windows clients. There are no current plans to include VoIP support in this client, however.

CWA brings to three the number of clients supported by Live Communications Server 2005. The Communicator client, which melded VoIP with instant messaging and buddy list capabilities, shipped earlier this month and Microsoft had already said it is working on a mobile client as well.

In instant messaging, Microsoft is playing catchup with market leader America Online, which fields the near-ubiquitous free AIM and ICQ IM clients. Microsoft is positioning its LCS and Communicator tandem as the real-time communications pipeline of choice for businesses that need secure IM.

Several years ago, the then-independent Lotus Development paved the way in that market with its Sametime franchise.

In other messaging news, Microsoft said Tuesday it completed its buyout of Sybari and its security portfolio. Terms of the deal, announced in February, were not disclosed.

Sybari, East Northport, N.Y., will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft, the company said in a statement.

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