Microsoft’s real-time collaboration plans

The Register published an interview yesterday with Anoop Gupta, Corporate Vice President of the Real-Time Collaboration Business Unit at Microsoft.

Geek-focused stuff. But some interesting things that PR, marketing and other communication professionals should pay attention to.


Real-time collaboration is basically anything that involves instant-messenger style presence. And the fact that Bill Gates’ former right-hand man is working on it shows how important Microsoft hopes it will be. “Communications is going from people-centric to number-centric,” says Gupta. “And presence becomes very important in that. My team is responsible for the presence stack across the whole organisation.”

The idea is you can built presence icons into Outlook, Sharepoint, CRM, ERP or any other application, Microsoft or otherwise, which involves talking to someone else. They let you know who’s online and whether they feel like talking to you. If they do, you click a button to launch a text, voice or video-based chat.

Microsoft recently announced that the next version of its Live Communications Server, 2005, will be able to talk to all three consumer instant messenger (IM) networks: MSN, Yahoo and AOL. “That means that businesses can ban all the consumer IM clients, with all the security and accountability problems that they bring,” says Gupta.

Presence isn’t just about text-based communications. The idea is to build it into voice and video communications as well. In the next 6 to 7 months, says Gupta, Microsoft will launch a new IM client, focused on information workers. “We are coming out with a specialised information worker client which will make it very easy to integrate with telephony applications,” says Gupta. Users will be able to click on an icon to switch from IM to voice.

The Register | From soup to nuts with Microsoft’s collaboration chief