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Microsoft looks to high end for NT 5

The software giant's upcoming NT 5 release makes it easier for data-based and multimedia communications to coexist across a network.

    Microsoft (MSFT) is leaving no stone unturned in its effort to add a Windows NT operating system presence to high-end markets.

    At this week's Computer Telephony Expo '98, the software monolith is demonstrating several features of its forthcoming NT 5.0 release that make it easier for data-based communications and multimedia voice and video communications to coexist across the same network.

    A key to this effort is a protocol called TAPI, essentially a software interface for telephony, which is included in all of the company's operating system (OS) software, including Windows 95 and NT Workstation and server 4.0. The protocol represents one of the keys for Microsoft if it is to tap into the huge business for server systems in the telecommunications market, a niche currently dominated by various flavors of Unix.

    The TAPI protocol allows products from multiple telephony vendors to communicate with one another.

    TAPI, currently in version 2.1, will be enhanced in version 3.0, when it will be extended to support call control and streaming technology for Net-based voice and multimedia services.

    That work will be released as part of NT 5.0, the massive upgrade that is currently part of a fierce release date debate, with many industry observers expecting the new version to roll out in the early spring of next year.