Microsoft’s Real-Time Communications Platform Takes Shape in Windows XP, Windows .NET Server

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 17, 2001 — A desire for intuitive, personal communication experiences that enable people to see, talk, work and play effortlessly online and in real time has spurred a real-time communications technologies growth. While millions of individuals send instant messages every day to colleagues, friends and family, organizations are discovering that they, too, can benefit from real-time communications. Increasingly, businesses see instant messaging as the first wave of innovative technologies that are changing the way their people share information — not just by swapping text messages, but also by exchanging voice, video, collaborative applications and other powerful tools.

Microsoft, which has a history of enabling users to communicate in new ways, supports these technological advances in Windows XP, the new operating system for home users and businesses, and across Microsoft’s entire family of operating systems. Two such technologies are a set of open standards known as Session Initiating Protocol (SIP), and SIMPLE extensions, which provide seamless interoperability for real-time communications users.

Combined with Windows .NET Server, real-time communications application programming interfaces — both client and server — enable third-party software makers and enterprise IT organizations to develop unified communications experiences and products that enhance the end-user experience in powerful new ways.

Independent software developers are taking notice. Among them is Indiana-based Interactive Intelligence Inc., which has integrated SIP into its interaction management software.

“By supporting this protocol, we enable enterprises, contact centers and service providers to add applications, such as multimedia routing and queuing, interactive voice response, unified messaging, presence management and other capabilities as part of their converged networks,” says Don Brown, CEO and president of Interactive. “Enterprises will find increased scalability and reduction of costs, and service providers will have the ability to generate additional revenue based on new service offerings.”

Microsoft, by integrating this protocol stack into the platform, has enabled new functionality, such as presence, telephony and video-conferencing integration with security. “But our main goal is to provide a framework that will allow developers to build on these standards and enable global reach,” says David Gurle, product unit manager of real-time communications at Microsoft. “We aim to provide tools and samples to make it easy for developers to add real-time communications capabilities to all sorts of applications.”

Windows XP Enhances Real-time Communications Offerings

Windows XP offers users a range of powerful personal communications tools, including Windows Messenger, which provides the real-time communications experience. In addition to providing instant messaging, Windows Messenger allows users to conduct voice conversations, videoconferences, data collaboration sessions, file sharing and Remote Assistance sessions.

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that more features have been added to Windows Messenger to provide users with the easiest and most complete real-time communications experience. This update adds an improved user interface, tabs, alerts and the ability to make phone calls from a PC.

Microsoft’s vision for Windows .NET Server, the next addition to the Windows server family, is to provide end-to-end experience and infrastructure that can only be achieved by using open protocols such as eXtensible Markup Language (XML), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), as well as SIP. By using these open protocols, Microsoft not only provides users with a rich experience across different devices, but also provides an extensible platform for independent developers to add their own value in this emerging Internet Protocol communications market.

Security Remains a High Priority for Microsoft

While end-user demand for real-time communications grows, businesses recognize the need to make these capabilities secure. Addressing concerns about unencrypted text traveling across the Internet, Microsoft is developing infrastructure technology that will enable a company to control the routing of a message and the function of its content, source and destination, as well as blocking and logging, to and from unauthorized users.

In addition, Microsoft provides support for such standards as Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption, and Digest and NTLM/Kerberos authentication protocols, and supports the client-level implementation of Microsoft Passport to deliver a secure real-time environment for the enterprise communications infrastructure.

“With this secure set of infrastructure technologies, we’re targeting a solution for organizations that want to use real-time communications as a business asset,” says Jay Jamison, group product manager for Microsoft’s .NET Server Group.

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