I've been asked several times in the last few days what my opinion is of Microsoft's "Istanbul" announcement earlier this week.  Having read a whole bunch of press and analyst coverage (thanks to Adam, PBOK, Peter, Michael, etc. for good links), here are some thoughts.

Istanbul will replace Windows Messenger as the preferred client for Live Communications Server,
Again with the rip-and-replace story?  Didn't Messenger 5.1 just ship?  So now both Netmeeting and Messenger are still "supported", but clearly all new development is going into this new client.
And what's with that anyway -- why build a new client for something that MS is touting as
"The reality of contextual collaboration is here now," [Gupta] said.
I thought the whole point of contextual collaboration was not to have purpose-built software -- but instead to find that collaborative capability embedded in other applications.  Shouldn't MS be focused on integrating with Outlook and SharePoint, instead of making users deploy a third client UI?
Since it is a client , I fail to see how it really is contextual.  And it also comes with all the extra caveats around integration and compatibility that a separate client necessitates.
Istanbul, which looks like a traditional IM client, allows for the searching of corporate and Outlook address books, where users can see other users' presence information, including out-of-office information from the Exchange server.
Why make the user switch to a different client to do this?
IBM's approach there has been to treat IM and conferencing as services, capabilities to be accessed by integrating environments such as Lotus Notes or WebSphere Portal.  I don't maintain a corporate buddy list -- I use awareness in the Lotus Notes client for locating most of my contacts.  
What does sound interesting in "Istanbul" is the VoIP integration -- need to see more details on what exactly that is or isn't.  Is it Skype for business?  As for the over-hyped "presence" bit -- MS was demonstrating that stuff with Exchange 2000 Mobile Information Server and the E2K IM client -- it didn't work then, and it isn't exactly new on their list.  Maybe they got closer to getting it right this time?
Link: eWeek: Microsoft adds voice, video to IM client >

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