Macromedia VoIP-Enables Breeze Web Conferencing Software

Breeze 5, the hosted version of which will be available this week, adds those capabilities atop its foundation of the Macromedia Flash Player, and is a viable rival to WebEx and Microsoft Live Communications Server 2005, several channel sources said.

The on-premises version, which will be offered both direct and through partners, will be available 30 days later, said Tom Hale, senior vice president and general manager of Macromedia's Communications Division.

Chief benefits of the new release are VoIP integration, resizable video windows. "With this release we have a platform focus ... on becoming part of the enterprise IP communications infrastructure ... You can take this and integrate it into daily worker's life -- customize it to work with business apps," Hale said.

Customizability is key for solution providers, some of whom are using Breeze internally and using it to help customers make the best of their applications. Hale said 75 percent of the current installed base is hosted, but he sees big opportunities in the on-premises for channel partners.

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Harry Zoberman, senior vice president of marketing for ASAP Software, the Buffalo Grove, Ill. corporate software reseller, is bullish on Breeze. "This is a very hot product for us. There's lots of interest both in enterprise and among public the government spaceit's efficient, easy to download and use, and they take advantage of the latest Flash product," he said.

Software Medium uses Breeze to walk users through advanced training and usage of the applications and utilities they've bought, said Rick Lewellyn, vice president of sales at Dallas-based solution provider. Sometimes that courseware is delivered under Software Medium's logo and sometimes is done on behalf of ISVs or other partners, so customization comes in handy, he said.

The training sessions and keystrokes can all be recorded so customers can archive and replay sessions at will. It has console control [so the instructor can take control of the screen, instant messaging, VoIP, and Software Medium has a customer portal they can log on and view their sessions, Lewellyn said.

Several price options are available, but a typical entry configuration starts at about $20,000, Hale said.

Adobe Systems planned buyout of Macromedia, announced two weeks ago, could add even more muscle to Breeze if the companies knit together Adobe's strengths in document-based collaboration and management with Macromedia's online expertise, observers said. Breeze's reach is extended by the multiple millions of Flash players already on the Net. San Francisco-based Macromedia said two million to three million copies of Flash are downloaded daily.

It's always good to have competition and in Breeze, Macromedia fields a very good rival to Microsoft, WebEx and IBM/Lotus collaborative applications, several solution providers said.

The combination of Adobe and Macromedia should further strengthen Macromedia's hand here, they said.

In related news, Microsoft last week released Service Pack 1 for its LCS 2005 collaboration software. With the service pack--as well as the separate LCS Connectivity Pack--users can connect their enterprise instant messaging to the public AOL, MSN and Yahoo public IM networks.