Microsoft Corp. announced that the first beta release of Microsoft NetMeeting conferencing software version 2.0 is now available at no charge for download from the Microsoft World Wide Web site. NetMeeting 1.0 was the first real-time communication client that enabled more than two users to share data over the Internet using standards-based multipoint data conferencing. NetMeeting 2.0 adds support for the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) H.323 standard to bring interoperable Internet telephony to users of the Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 operating systems.
Broad industry support for the ITU H.323 standard in NetMeeting 2.0 will provide interoperability between communication clients, communication gateways, multipoint conferencing bridges and other communication services, changing the way people communicate over the Internet. The H.323 standard will serve as the common protocol that enables the same type of ubiquitous experience for communication over the Internet that the telephone does around the world.
"The delivery of the first beta release of NetMeeting 2.0, with support for H.323 audio conferencing which was jointly developed with Intel, marks a major milestone for the industry and for our customers," said John Ludwig, vice president in the Internet platform and tools division at Microsoft. "For the first time ever, customers will be able to use their PCs for real-time communication on the Internet as easily as they communicate using their telephones."
New Enhancements in First Beta Release of NetMeeting 2.0
NetMeeting 1.0 delivered the first real-time communications client to transcend voice-only communication by enabling users to share data over the Internet. The first beta release of NetMeeting 2.0 expands on this industry-leading functionality by adding these capabilities:
* Broad compatibility. Incorporating support for the H.323 standard enables cross-platform interoperability between NetMeeting and other H.323-compatible Internet phones, such as Intel's Internet Phone.
* Support for Windows NT Workstation 4.0. Now, users of Windows NT 4.0 can communicate and collaborate with each other and with users of NetMeeting on Windows 95, and communicate with other people using H.323-compatible Internet phones.
* User interface enhancements. Changes to the NetMeeting user interface include a redesigned toolbar that is consistent with Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0, integration of the NetMeeting User Location Service (ULS) directory view in the main NetMeeting window to make it easier to find and connect to other users, and improved features for managing conferences.
Industry Rallies Around H.323
Through the built-in functionality of NetMeeting, and use of interoperable products and services from more than 120 leading industry vendors that have announced support for H.323, consumers will be able to use the Internet for real-time multimedia communications. The broad support for this standard will drive technological advances such as the development of gateways between the Internet and the telephone network and bridges for multipoint conferencing. Users of NetMeeting can expect to use their PCs to call anyone in the world and communicate with several people at the same time on the Internet.
"Broad support for the H.323 standard will change the telecommunications landscape on the Internet," said Joy Pinsky, general manager of multimedia communications services at Lucent Technologies. "We're pleased to join Microsoft and other industry leaders in promoting standards that enhance interaction among multimedia platforms, including our MultiMedia Communications eXchange (MMCX) and Internet telephony server."
The recently delivered NetMeeting 1.0 Software Development Kit (SDK) for Windows 95 allows software developers, solution providers and Web site professionals to deliver solutions and build products and services that are integrated with NetMeeting, creating great new communication offerings for their customers. The NetMeeting SDK will be updated to reflect the new functionality in NetMeeting 2.0, enabling communication and conferencing solutions based on the H.323 and T.120 standards to be built and delivered to customers. A prerelease version of the NetMeeting 2.0 SDK is expected before the end of the year.
The first beta release of NetMeeting 2.0 for use with Windows 95 and Windows NT 4.0 is now available to download free (other than the cost of online connect time, if any) from the Microsoft NetMeeting Web site . The final version of NetMeeting 2.0 is expected to be available in the first quarter of 1997. Support for the Apple Macintosh is expected in 1997.
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