Live Meeting 2007 To Hit This Fall

With this update, Live Meeting shares more common code with its on-premises sibling, Office Communications Server 2007. OCS is expected to RTM this summer and be broadly available in the fall.

"We've been hard at work building this common Web conferencing capability available both in a service and a server and we've created a single client interface for both, Roger Murff, director of marketing for Microsoft's Unified Communications group told CRN.

Live Meeting has its roots in Placeware, which Microsoft acquired in 2003. While a good chunk of Placeware's technology was in Java and Unix, the bulk of the current code base will now be Microsoft-centric.

Among the new perks, which will be announced at TechEd 2007 on Tuesday, will be support for 360-degree video when used with Microsoft's upcoming Roundtable hardware. Also new is Live Meeting's ability to handle "rich integrated media" including Windows Media Format, Adobe Flash, "all in one interface," Murff said.

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It will also allow use of mixed telephony devices on one call-- one attendee could be on a traditional phone, another on a VoIP-enabled PC, and yet another on a cell phone. .

The Live Meeting, OCS tandem is a good example of Microsoft's promised hybrid go-to-market attack. The company has said it will deliver the bulk of its functionality via both a services and on-premises model.

It's gotten hotter in the Web conferencing sector since Cisco's acquisition of Webex a few months ago. Webex is the market leader in hosted Web conferencing and Cisco and Microsoft are competing more directly in various parts of the unified communications realm.

Murff says the market is growing at a "blistering" pace and competition will benefit customers. "We think that our common Web interface and single platform for both service and server gives the customer a choice. We think that's compelling."

He said the new version also offers a wider variety of meeting types from easy-to-set up ad hoc conferences between a handful of users up to very large training and events.

For training, there will be a library to store tests and keep related collateral and to track who has been tested.

There will be APIs available to facilitate the funneling of that information into learning management systems, he said.