Microsoft to launch ‘swiss army knife’ desktop communications application

“Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday said it is launching a desktop application that aims to seamlessly integrate e-mail, instant messaging, video conferencing, traditional phone service and Internet-based calling,” Mark Jewell reports for The Associated Press. “Microsoft plans to debut the product, code-named ‘Istanbul,’ sometime in the first half of 2005 to compete with efforts by rivals like IBM Corp. to link different channels of communications onto a single platform accessible from a computer.”

“Microsoft is testing Istanbul with corporate clients, and expects to run similar tests with consumers in the next few months before bringing the product to market, said Anoop Gupta, vice president of Microsoft’s real-time collaboration efforts,” Jewell reports. “Istanbul will enable users to communicate with others regardless of which brand of instant messaging either party is using, said Gupta, who announced the plans at the VON Fall 2004 conference on voice-over-Internet phone technology.”

“Istanbul will feature so-called ‘rich presence’ technology, using ‘buddy’ lists to indicate which colleagues or friends are available for a range of communications rather than merely through the IM service itself,” Jewell reports. “Then, users could choose to immediately respond to an e-mail via instant messenger or another method such as voice-over-Internet within the same application, rather than switching back and forth between applications.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We wouldn’t mind having something like this on our Mac OS X machines. Blend equal parts of Mail, iChat, Skype, and Vonage and call it iCommunicate

42 Comments

  1. I can already smell the billions of dollars in damage clean up and third party products required to tape over the plethora of vulnerabilities that this product will no doubt introduce.

  2. Applications such as this, especially coming from Microslop, will approach each function with signature mediocrity. I personally would rather have best of breed in each category.

  3. One of the main problems with apps such as Lotus Notes and Microsoft’s own Outlook is that they have combined everything into one app, making it unwieldy and bulky. Yes, Outlook mail integrates with the calendar and notes and journals and such, but it is slower than hell and a real B*tch to find something intuitively.

    Also, the last thing I need is for my IM to fire up when I go to check mail. That allows everyone to see that you are “available” when you really aren’t.

  4. I agree with Jimbo. Sometimes combining multiple apps into one is good, like making a multi-service IM app. However, force-fitting things together is not necessarily innovative. I’ve got friends who like to carry a sackful of accessories for their PDA, like plug-on keyboards and such. And they look at ME like I’m some kind of weirdo for suggesting they simply get a laptop — an all-in-one design with more features than they could accessorize, and in a more robust package.

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