One of the fastest growing segments of the communication industry is the area of Instant Messaging, where people can set up "buddy lists" on their computer and have real time text conversations with friends or colleagues. The problem until now has been how to capture the corporate benefits of Instant Messaging without spending the resources to ensure the security of the communication. Enter Microsoft.
This week, Microsoft premiered a trial version of its new corporate Instant Messaging (IM) service, named Greenwich. The new server software is designed to keep all of the benefits of Instant Messaging that consumers have experienced for years, while adding the necessary layers of security to reassure IT managers and CEOs that the communications between their employees will be safe and secure.
The "Big Three" consumer IM services are AOL, Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger, but all three have been slow to adapt themselves to the corporate market. Microsoft’s new Greenwich product will have a built-in bridge to MSN Messenger, solving one of the biggest problems that currently exist – that of the lack of interoperability between the various IM networks.
The beta version of the software will include features for real-time communications beyond instant messaging, such as presence and multiparty collaboration. The software will also include multimedia functions such as PC-to-PC voice and video transmission. The key to the success of Greenwich will be perfecting the connection to the MSN Messenger service, giving Microsoft a significant advantage over its competitors.
"IM is a very hot subject right now among corporate users trying to tame this technology that has found its way into IT environments without, necessarily, IT approval," said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at Jupiter Research.
In addition to the Big Three IM providers, others scurrying to get in on the growing corporate market include IBM’s Lotus Division, Oracle, Sun Microsystems, and other smaller players including IMLogic, FaceTime, Bantu and Jabber.