October 19, 2004 8:15 AM PDT

Microsoft updates corporate IM

Microsoft on Tuesday announced enhancements to its corporate instant-messaging service that will weave in features commonly found in the company's Outlook e-mail software.

The new enterprise IM client, code-named Istanbul, resembles the Windows Messenger software that's currently found in Windows XP. The difference is that a user's IM information is synchronized with Outlook's calendar and scheduling information. Istanbul further connects to common desk phones and serves up an alert when someone calls. People can then route the call to their cell phone or voice mail box.

Istanbul is a feature within Microsoft's Live Communications Server 2005, software that initially launched as a way for companies to offer secure IM to their employees.

With Istanbul, Microsoft is taking another step toward incorporating IM "presence" into its other popular products such as Outlook and Microsoft Office. Presence technology is designed to let people channel phone calls and other correspondences to their phone or Internet device of choice. It tells other contacts where those same people can be reached when they're offline or whether they can be reached at all. Future applications will include Internet voice calling and the ability to set up live meetings with other contacts using LCS.

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