Polycom targets high-quality desktop conferencing

Conferencing and collaboration equipment provider Polycom Inc. on Monday announced a series of offerings designed to bring business-quality conferencing features to personal desktops. The products follow up on a collaborative agreement struck with Microsoft earlier this year to develop rich media services.

The new products include WebOffice 7.0 desktop portal; PVX video conferencing software; Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) support on Polycom’s Multipoint Gateway Controller (MGC) platform; and ReadiManager LX100 integrated management and scheduling appliance for video conferencing.

“We are seeing two major trends around rich media collaboration,” said Mark Roberts, vice president of product development for Polycom. “There is integration between the different collaboration elements into a single user experience, such as using Windows Messenger as a way to launch voice, video, and Web conferencing. The other area is around enhanced desktop communications with new applications like Polycom PVX, which delivers high-end conferencing and collaboration functionality directly from a PC.”

Polycom’s WebOffice 7.0 desktop portal allows users to incorporate desktop conferencing into an enterprise conferencing portal by initiating on-demand or reserved conference and collaboration sessions involving instant messaging, voice, video, and data in any combination.

WebOffice 7.0 has a point-and-click user interface and supports buddy lists, instant messaging, application sharing, chat, and whiteboard collaboration. The WebOffice conferencing portal can be configured to integrate Microsoft Windows Messenger client, in conjunction with Microsoft Corp.’s Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003. The portal allows users to show device presence for Polycom’s audio and video conferencing products and to instantly launch calls.

Polycom PVX video conferencing software application extends high-quality conferencing capabilities to users’ desktops and to Web cameras. It delivers high audio, video, and graphic quality, and enables desktop users to call standards-based video conferencing systems in offices or conference rooms with remote applications. It also supports telephony features such as call forwarding and call transfer, allowing users to forward incoming calls to their desktop systems or to other devices such as cell phones.

The new version of Polycom’s MGC unified conferencing platform allows enterprises to deploy rich media applications over any conferencing network type. Polycom announced SIP support on the MGC platform, allowing interoperability of Polycom conferencing and collaboration systems with Microsoft environments.

Collaboration between Polycom MGC and Microsoft Office Live Communications Server offers customers an integrated SIP-based infrastructure for rich media collaboration with Polycom voice, video, and Web features and applications and Windows Messenger portals.

Also introduced was a new management and scheduling appliance, ReadiManager LX100, aimed at improving rich media collaborative communications. The appliance connects directly to a network to deliver simplified device management and voice and video conferencing scheduling through Microsoft Outlook, Lotus Notes, or a Web-based scheduling wizard.

In addition, Polycom announced upgrades to its suite of management and scheduling applications. Polycom Conference Suite now offers an integrated Lotus Notes interface, in addition to the existing Microsoft Outlook interface, and an automated Web scheduling wizard.

The Polycom Global Management System offers integration with Avaya’s NMS Management System and support for the new Polycom PVX desktop video conferencing software application. Polycom PathNavigator, an advanced video gatekeeper, improves video conferencing by extending firewall support and in-depth diagnostic information on latency and packet loss data.

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