Netscape, Microsoft plan H.323 Net phones

Netscape and Microsoft both plan to release H.323-compliant versions of their Internet telephony client software by the end of the year, company officials say.

Netscape and Microsoft both plan to release H.323-compliant versions of their Internet telephony client software by the end of the year, company officials say.

In the fourth quarter of this year, Netscape will release LiveCall, a replacement for Navigator add-on CoolTalk that complies with the ITU's H.323 standard for audio and video conferencing over networks, says Michael Po, director of live media at Netscape. LiveCall will be part of the Navigator 4.0 browser. "It's very well integrated with the rest of the Netscape platform, so it supports being able to dial people from your address book. The address book can grab a lot of its information from our recently released directory server," Po says.

Netscape will also offer a video plug-in, Po says. LiveCall will support a number of different codecs, including a high-end 8.3Kbit toll-quality voice codec that Netscape is licensing from a partner Po would not name. Netscape will also ship a codec from VoxWare, he says.

Meanwhile, Microsoft plans to beta test an H.323-compliant version of its voice and data conferencing tool NetMeeting 1.1 in October, says Blake Irving, group manager at Microsoft's Internet platform and tools division. Irving says he was encouraged to hear that Netscape will support H.323 and says that interoperability and support for standards are key to advancing the internet telephony industry.

"At a base level technology, they have to use a common technology. It doesn't have to be a Microsoft technology, it doesn't have to be a Netscape technology, it has to be a standards-based technology," Irving says.

Also on the NetMeeting roadmap, Microsoft plans to release a Windows NT version by the end of the year, and a Mac version in the second quarter of next year with the NetMeeting 2.0 release. NetMeeting 2.0 will also support video conferencing, and include an API to enable ISVs to write applications that use NetMeeting's conferencing capabilities.

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