Microsoft launches unified comms client for Nokia phones

Users will be able to see colleagues' presence and send IMs from Nokia's E72 and E52 smartphones

Nokia and Microsoft on Wednesday announced the availability of Microsoft Communicator Mobile for Nokia, a unified communications client for Nokia's Eseries smartphones. The software is the first result of the partnership they announced in August last year.

The Communicator Mobile client connects with Microsoft's Office Communications Server 2007 R2, and let users see their colleagues' availability and communicate with them using instant messaging, email, SMS (Short Message Service), or a call from the phone's address book, according to Nokia.

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The ability to see when and how colleagues are available -- commonly referred to as presence -- and send instant messages are the key features, a Nokia spokesman said via email.

The voice calls will be made via the phone network, but a future version will also be able to make calls over IP, he added, without providing any details. Today, voice-over-IP calls can instead be made using Microsoft's PC client, Office Communicator, which also integrates with Office Communications Server.

Initially, Microsoft Communicator Mobile will be available on the Nokia E72 and the E52 handsets, and owners of those devices can download the English version of the software from Nokia's Ovi Store. Nokia plans to ship the software on certain smartphones in future, and to support additional devices, including the recently announced Nokia E5.

Until now, Microsoft has only offered its enterprise customers a Windows Mobile-based mobile client, something that has held Office Communications Server back, according to Steve Blood, vice president and agenda manager at Gartner. Companies have instead been turning to PBX and third-party software vendors that offer a wider support for different mobile operating systems.

The addition of support for Symbian is a step in the right direction, but now Microsoft has to "dance with the devil" and also add support for the iPhone, Android-based smartphones and Research In Motion's BlackBerry phones, according to Blood.

Since the announcement in August, Nokia and Microsoft have been collaborating on the design and development of "new solutions." However, they have not yet said what that will lead to beyond Communicator Mobile.

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