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MS vs. Java: Hold the phone

Computer telephony applications are the next battleground where Microsoft's Windows 95 and NT will line up against platform-independent Java.

The computer industry's romance with the telephone will heat up next week.

At the Computer Telephony Expo in Los Angeles, Microsoft (MSFT), Lucent Technologies (LU), and other vendors will showcase products that marry PCs and telephones in order to make communications easier.

Computer telephony integration (CTI) promises to wean companies from proprietary, "single-function" phone systems onto more flexible PC platforms. CTI applications are designed to allow companies to do everything from set up conference calls to automatically dial huge databases of people for telemarketing campaigns. And like other areas of application development, camps are forming within the CTI world around Windows APIs (application programming interfaces) from Microsoft and Java APIs that will enable CTI applications to run on multiple platforms.

Next week, Microsoft is expected to discuss how it is further integrating the Telephone APIs (TAPIs) for Windows 95 and NT operating systems, according to sources. A number of other companies will announce new applications that use TAPIs.

Active Voice (ACVC) will announce a new version of its PhoneMax call management software for dialing, answering, transferring, and screening calls. The new version will include PhoneBasic, a Visual Basic-like scripting language that makes it easier to customize applications, according to the company.

But TAPIs won't be the only PC telephony APIs on display at the show. Lucent will try to gain momentum for the Java Telephony API (JTAPI), which will allow developers to build applications using Sun Microsystems' Java programming language. Lucent will show a Java CTI application that runs on top of its PassageWay Telephony Service product.