Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL boost business IM wares

Microsoft Corp., Yahoo Inc. and America Online Inc. all announced enhancements to their respective instant messaging (IM) services for businesses on Wednesday, the opening day of the Fall 2003 Instant Messaging Planet Conference and Expo in San Diego.

AOL certified Akonix Systems Inc., maker of an IM management software, as a partner of its AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) service for businesses. Meanwhile, Yahoo launched its revamped business IM service, Yahoo Business Messenger 2.0, with integrated Web conferencing capabilities from WebEx Communications Inc. Finally, Microsoft announced the integration of IMlogic Inc.'s IMlogic IM Manager with the Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003. IMlogic competes against Akonix.

The moves are designed to boost the companies' capabilities in the fast-growing corporate IM space. IM communications, which first flourished as free services among individual home users, quickly found their way to corporate offices, as users took advantage of the ability to exchange messages instantly and in real time with coworkers and outside business partners.

However, companies quickly realized if employees were exchanging sensitive and confidential work-related information and data over IM networks, then corporate IM communications needed certain security, management and control features that the regular services for individuals lacked. Now Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL all provide special software, tools and services for companies that want to use their IM networks for work-related communications.

By making Akonix an AIM partner, AOL certifies that the Akonix L7 Enterprise IM communications manager works well with its IM service. It also means the companies will collaborate in enhancing and extending the Akonix L7 Enterprise for the AIM network, and that those improvements are authorized, compatible and supported by AOL, said Peter Coppola, Akonix's vice president of product marketing.

Meanwhile, Yahoo Business Messenger 2.0 is available now, giving users the ability to blend instant messaging with Web meeting services, allowing users to, among other things, share applications and presentations with integrated video and voice conferencing, according to information on this section of Yahoo's Web site: http://enterprise.yahoo.com/products/msg/.

Finally, the Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003, essentially server software for providing IM services, gains the ability to log, archive and report on IM usage through its integration with IMlogic IM Manager.

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