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Microsoft takes a meeting

Microsoft begins beta testing the latest version of its NetMeeting audio and data conferencing software that lets several people communicate at once via the Internet.

Microsoft (MSFT) today began beta testing the latest version of its NetMeeting audio and data conferencing software that lets several people communicate at once via the Internet.

The software, which can be downloaded for free from the company's Web site, adds support for the International Telecommunications Union H.323 standard for Internet telephony interoperability that industry executives hope will soon make Internet conferencing as easy talking on the telephone. The H.323 audio conferencing support, which was developed jointly with Intel, will make NetMeeting compatible with other Internet phones, the company said.

The NetMeeting 2.0 upgrade also supports Windows NT Workstation 4.0. The Redmond, Washington-based company has redesigned the toolbar to match its Internet Explorer 3.0 and has integrated the software with its User Location Service online directory.

Microsoft expects to ship the product in the first quarter of next year, with support for Apple Computer's Macintosh coming later in 1997.