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MS, Intel make conferencing deal

Microsoft and Intel have made a cross-licensing agreement on Net conferencing.

Microsoft and Intel today announced that they're swapping two standards-based protocols in a cross-licensing agreement that should make conferencing over the Net easier.

Under the deal, Microsoft will license its T.120 protocol to Intel, while Intel gives Microsoft its H.323 stack. T.120 is International Trade Union standard for data conferencing that allows any compliant application to interoperate. Similarly, H.323 is an ITU interoperability standard for audio and video conferencing over the Net.

Intel will also license to Microsoft two other protocols--the bandwidth reservation protocol (better known as RSVP) and Realtime Transfer Protocol (RTP)--which aren't commonly used today, but may ultimately improve real-time communications over the Net.

Currently, a variety of Net conferencing products, including Internet telephones, application sharing, and whiteboard programs, exist on the Net, but they all communicate in a babble of protocols, making it impossible for the user of one program to speak to the user of another.

Microsoft offers a data conferencing and Internet telephone program called NetMeeting, but the program supports only the T.120 standard, not the H.323 standard for its audio portion. Later this year, the company will add standards based audio conferencing to NetMeeting and will do the same in 1997 for video conferencing, said Charles Fitzgerald, a program manger Microsoft.

Intel has yet to release a product that exploits its H.323 protocol software, though the company is expected to add that and T.120 data conferencing capabilities to its ProShare software.

Intel is a minority investor in CNET: the Computer Network.

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