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MS posts Net telephony tools

Microsoft launches an update to its NetMeeting software with Net telephony features soon to be included in its Web browser and operating systems.

Microsoft (MSFT) today launched an update to its NetMeeting conferencing software, which includes Internet telephony features soon to become part of the company's Web browser and operating systems.

NetMeeting 2.0, software for conducting Internet video, audio, and data conferencing, is now available for free download at the company's Web site. It will be incorporated in new releases of the Microsoft Internet Explorer Web browser, which is currently in beta testing and due to ship this summer, and in future versions of the Windows operating system, the company said.

The software promises a low-cost alternative to long distance telephone calls and can also manage real-time videoconferencing for "face-to-face" communication using PCs. It supports the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) H.323 standard for Internet telephony interoperability and the H.323 audio conferencing support to assure the software's compatibility with other Internet telephony software.

For data conferencing among several people at once, NetMeeting supports the ITU's T.120 standard. Microsoft has added support for the Microsoft Internet Locator Server 1.0 directory service to facilitate Internet connections, the company said.

As part of the official debut, Microsoft today showcased compatible products and services from more than 60 other hardware and software makers, and service providers. 3Com, Compaq Computer, Digital Equipment, Farallon Computing, VDOnet, and White Pine Software were among the industry players pledging interoperability with NetMeeting.

Microsoft also unveiled a resource kit designed to help systems administrators deploy the software and help Microsoft officials gather customer feedback.