Microsoft's new range of real-time collaboration (RTC) software will provide the channel with "significant" sales opportunities, the firm claimed last week.
Speaking from San Francisco, Bill Gates, chief software architect at Microsoft, unveiled updates to its Communications Server and Live Meeting offerings, which now feature integration with desktop and line-of-business applications and voice over IP.
Gates also unveiled Office Communicator 2005, which integrates videoconferencing, email, telephone, Short Message Service, webconferencing and instant messaging functionality into a single desktop client.
"We can use the power of software to simplify the way we communicate, offering a greater sense of presence, a more unified experience and a more secure, trusted environment," said Gates.
Neil Laver, head of the UK RTC group at Microsoft, told CRN: "These products provide some significant opportunities for resellers. They require other solutions built around them, such as server technology. They also allow resellers to help end-users with compliance regulations."
Nigel Hudson, business development director at Microsoft Gold partner Technology Services Group, said: "Collaboration is increasingly becoming a theme with our customers. The key is working out which applications are best suited to each user.
"There's something for everyone in Office Communicator. Resellers must understand what the user needs to do and bundle and present the software and hardware accordingly."
Bob Tarzey, service director at analyst Quocirca, said: "This will give resellers the opportunity to switch end-users over to a completely IP-based network. It could also let them build a value proposition around the change.
"Most packages similar to these have been limited by a shortage of applications, but Microsoft's package is richer and will appeal to data and voice resellers."
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