The beta software is expected to be available in June or July, and Microsoft is expecting as many as a thousand customers to sign on, a spokesman says.
The app, code-named Vienna, will beef up federation among dispersed LCS servers and bulk up scalability, the spokesman says. Final software is expected in the fourth quarter.
LCS 2005, like its predecessor, will offer presence awareness, instant messaging and support for standards such as the Simple Initiation Protocol and SIP Instant Messaging and Presence Leveraging Extensions, according to the company.
Solution providers say the current LCS 2003 gets a bit "complex" when they try to stretch it across organizations and locations. The new offering should make it easier for them to set up real-time communication links between their customers, their customers and their partners, and suppliers without having to build a VPN, according to Microsoft.
As CRN reported in February, the company is working both on Vienna and a new rewritten LCS client code-named Istanbul that will add support for Microsoft's Ring Cam and other perks. The spokesman says the current Windows Messenger 5 client will work against LCS 2005.
In related news, IBM Software's Lotus group next week is expected to unveil its Workplace 2 lineup in New York. Lotus pioneered the secure instant messaging and presence space with its Sametime offering several years ago. Lotus executives promised the new Workplace release for the second quarter. At the time, executives said Workplace 2 offers a rich client, collaborative document management, and Workplace Builder tools.