Microsoft Demonstrates Technology for Computer Telephony
LOS ANGELES, March 3, 1998 — At Computer Telephony Expo ’98 this week, Microsoft Corp. demonstrated for the first time features in the Microsoft® Windows® operating system family that will allow companies to use the Windows platform for both traditional telephony solutions and Internet telephony applications.
Microsoft also announced several initiatives to help make deployment of applications built on the Windows NT® Server operating system and the Telephony Applications Programming Interface (TAPI) easier. More than 60 new TAPI 2.1-compatible Windows-based telephony products have been introduced by independent software and hardware vendors during the past nine months, and many were demonstrated at the show.
In the past, the technologies for carrying voice and data traffic have been different, so companies have borne the cost and inconvenience of managing separate networks. As the technologies for carrying voice and data converge, enterprise organizations and carriers increasingly view telephony over the Internet and intranets as a way to reduce communications cost, boost end-user productivity and enable new applications. At CT Expo, Microsoft demonstrated features in Windows NT Server 5.0 beta, including TAPI 3.0 and other related networking enhancements designed to support computer telephony integration and telephony over the Internet. These new features build on today’s TAPI 2.1 and Windows NT Server 4.0 and add support for quality of service, conferencing, enhanced media control, and other features for less expensive, more flexible call-center and personal-productivity communications solutions.
“Microsoft is committed to making Windows the best platform for telephony infrastructure,” said Mike Nash, director of Windows NT marketing for Microsoft. “Windows NT Server 4.0 with TAPI 2.1 is a great solution today, and new features in Windows NT Server 5.0 will offer developers and customers even more network choices and lower costs.”
This week’s preview featured the first known TAPI 3.0-based application, ActiveVoice Corp.’s PhoneDialer, which runs on Windows NT Server 5.0 beta software, enabling multimedia telephone calls across the Internet and traditional phone lines.
Key Near-Term TAPI Initiatives
In addition to the Windows NT Server 5.0 technology preview, Microsoft announced several near-term initiatives to make it easier and less expensive for customers and vendors to use Windows NT Server and TAPI.
July 1998 IMTC SuperOp! and TAPI Bake-Off interoperability events. The TAPI Bake-Off is to be co-located with IMTC SuperOp! in Honolulu. This will be the first time a wide variety of products based on TAPI 2.1 and TAPI 3.0 are tested together with products based on standards such as H.323, H.324, H.320 and T.120. Microsoft, GTE BD & I – GTE Hawaiian Tel, and 3Com Corp. are co-sponsoring the TAPI Bake-Off event and also joining the International Multimedia Teleconferencing Consortium in sponsoring SuperOp!
TAPI service provider initiative with AnswerSoft. Microsoft and AnswerSoft will work together to help telephone-system vendors more quickly develop robust TAPI 2.1 service providers for applications such as call centers. Software drivers enable phone systems to understand TAPI commands.
TAPI service providers ship with Windows NT 5.0. Microsoft plans to include TAPI service providers written by a selected set of telephony vendors as part of the upcoming release of Windows NT Server 5.0 and Windows NT Workstation 5.0. This will be the first time third-party telephony driver software is to be included with the operating system, enabling customers and service providers to more quickly and easily deploy computer telephony solutions.
TAPI 3.0 – Capitalizing on the Active Directory and More
TAPI, a cornerstone of the Windows communications platform, enables telephony products developed by one company to work with telephony products from another company. TAPI 2.1 supports call control for traditional telephony and is used to enable a wide variety of call-center and personal-productivity computer telephony solutions. TAPI 3.0 builds on TAPI 2.1’s services. With version 3.0, Microsoft is extending TAPI to support call control and media streaming for Internet telephony and traditional telephony. The support of the H.323 standard in TAPI 3.0 for Internet telephony enables interoperability with leading Internet telephony clients, such as Microsoft NetMeeting
™conferencing software. Microsoft is also extending TAPI to incorporate Component Object Model Plus (COM+) technology, allowing telephony applications to be written in any language. TAPI will be an integral part of Windows NT 5.0 and will be seamlessly integrated with technologies such as the Active Directory Service for improved management and user name-to-IP-address-mapping, DirectX® media streaming and the Resource Reservation Protocol (RSVP) for better network quality of service.
“TAPI will allow Internet telephony to enter the mainstream in a standard way while retaining a very relevant connection to today’s legacy phone systems,” said Jim Burton, president of C~T LINK LLC. “Developers, once overwhelmed with the difficulty of developing Internet telephony applications, will be able to integrate this technology into their current and future applications seamlessly.”
TAPI 2.1, which provides enhanced client/server telephony support, has been available since June as a free Web download (http//www.microsoft.com/communication/) for customers and developers who use Windows 95, Windows NT Workstation 4.0 and Windows NT Server 4.0 (connect-time charges may apply). An enhancement to TAPI 2.1, which is now in beta, will provide
better support of international and 10-digit dialing and a variety of performance improvements. Microsoft plans to make the TAPI 2.1 refresh available to customers of Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 in the first half of 1998. TAPI 2.1 will also ship as part of Windows 98. TAPI 3.0 is part of the Windows NT 5.0 beta and will ship with Windows NT Server 5.0 and Windows NT Workstation 5.0.
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