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January 1999


Software Phone Clients

We hurtle headlong into a future that will offer a vast array of choices that promise to solve our telecommunications needs. As voice, video, fax, and data converge, these basic forms of communication will be sent over any type of transport available. Many of us believe that the Internet Protocol (IP) will be the most common language spoken by the networks of tomorrow. IP over ATM? IP over frame? IP over just about anything seems to be the battle cry these days.

Truth is that most people won�t know how their voice is being carried and fact of the matter is, most people won�t care. The technical details that go into ringing a phone half a world away are beyond most people�s comprehension. They need only to know that when they initiate a call from say, Zurich, the call will go through to its destination, be it in Geneva, New York, or Kuala Lumpur. The key here is that the whole operation is transparent to the user. However, users still need some kind of interface, an interface we�ll refer to as an Internet telephony client.

This month�s product roundup features a number of these Internet telephony clients. These PC-based software phones open up whole new avenues of communication. Many of them offer video capability. Many take advantage of compression algorithms that did not exist but a few years ago. These phones are more advanced than their earlier counterparts too. Standards compliance is key as is evidenced by the vast number of Internet telephony clients that now adhere to such standards as H.323, G.729, etc�

I urge you to take a look at the products and solutions covered in the following pages. Take this opportunity to learn about the types of products that are available. Then, when you�re done doing your homework, do some more. Check out the Web pages of these and other vendors. Make some calls. Get as much information as you can. Try out several solutions and see which one works best for you.

� Greg Galitzine


COMMUNICATE! PRO
01 Communique Laboratory Inc.
1450 Meyerside Dr.
Mississauga, ON
Canada L5T 2N5

COMMUNICATE! PRO from 01 Communique Laboratory offers phone, fax, Internet access, e-mail, voice mail, and pager capabilities directly from a user's PC. The software includes an Internet shelf for handling caller ID, customizable voice mail, speed dial, a full-duplex speakerphone, and the ability to launch a Web browser and receive e-mail. The fax and data shelf allows users to view and edit faxes and graphics files, in addition to sending faxes or scheduling them to be sent at a later time. And the telephone shelf has the ability to record phone conversations and greetings as well as broadcast voice mail and pager messages.

Other features of COMMUNICATE! PRO include support for standard file transfer protocols, a built-in contact manager, the ability to import database files or existing phone books from WinFax Pro and ACT! 2.0/3.0, and comprehensive call logging. The application requires Window 95/NT, a 486 or faster processor, 16 MB or more of RAM, a double-speed CD-ROM drive, and 25 MB or more of hard drive space. Users will also need speakers, a microphone, a Creative Labs-compatible sound card, and a Class 1 or 2 voice/speakerphone modem compatible with Rockwell, USRobotics, or Lucent. A free trial version is available at the company's Web site, www.01com.com.


Virtual PhoneBooth
callworks
3870 Charter Park Dr.
San Jose, CA 95136

callworks has introduced an application that allows Web mall owners and cyberwallet providers to set up Virtual PhoneBooths for their visitors. The phonebooths enable users to place calls from any multimedia PC in the world, with limitations set by the caller. The software is easily integrated with existing Web sites using standard HTML and any payment mechanism the vendor chooses.

Call recipients do not need to have the software already installed on their machines to receive a call, thanks to Virtual Phonebooth's micro-Internet telephony client. The recipient will receive a VeriSign message to inform that the call is incoming, and after the download is accepted, the software will install itself and the call will be connected. For more information, visit the callworks Web site at www.callworks.com.


GatherTalk with Video 1.6
CIXT
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Rm. 724, Ho Sin Hang Engineering Building
Shatin, Hong Kong

The Centre for Internet Exchange Technologies (CIXT) has released GatherTalk with Video 1.6, the latest version of its multiparty voice conferencing software. CIXT, which took over development and production of the software from the Department of Electronic Engineering at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in July of 1996, has incorporated new voice compression technology in the latest release, and has made the software net-to-phone ready.

The application will support five people conferencing on 28.8 Kbps modems, and more users on ISDN or LAN connections. The new video plug-in also works with 28.8 Kbps modems. GatherTalk acts as an answering machine by recording voice messages to the hard disk, and offers private conferencing support over an intranet. The software also features third-party plug-in program support for outside communication applications, as well as the TextTalk plug-in, which comes bundled with the application to support text conferencing. A whiteboard plug-in is also included with the software to enable drawing using pens, lines, and circles, as well as the transmission of OLE objects through a network.

The GatherTalk algorithm utilizes direct connections and does not require intermediate chat servers, which shortens transmission and processing delays. It also allows for private conferencing and the assignment of groups. For more information or to download the software, visit www.gathertalk.com.


CineVideo/Direct
CINECOM Corporation
1308 Devils Reach Rd., Ste. 302
Woodbridge, VA 22192

CINECOM offers a product that will operate on limited resources and deliver a wide range of services. CineVideo/Direct enables everything from text communication to full-duplex audio and live PC-to-PC video over phone lines using a minimum 14.4 Kbps modem. The video conferencing software allows one to one conferencing, live broadcasts, and Video on Demand (VOD), and can be used with most video capture devices that support Video for Windows.

Minimum requirements for the software include a 486, 66 MHz or faster processor, 8 MB of RAM, 2 MB of hard drive space, a 14.4 Kbps or better modem, a LAN card, and Windows 95/NT. The application supports Sound Blaster-compatible sound cards, the Connectix QuickCam in black and white or color, video cameras using NTSC/PAL output, and microphones. A free trial is available on the CINECOM Web site. For more information, visit www.cinecom.com.


JavaPhone 1.2
IBM
1133 Westchester Ave.
White Plains, NY 10604

IBM has introduced Version 1.2 of its JavaPhone with enhanced comfort noise and echo suppression audio capabilities for communication over Intranets, PSTN gateways on the Internet, and PBXs. JavaPhone is the first Java H.323 compliant IP-based phone, designed with a Java-based drag and drop user interface.

JavaPhone meets industry standards and supports RTP streaming, H.323 signaling, and G.711 and G.723 codecs. The application interoperates with Microsoft NetMeeting (please refer to the software roundup in the Second Quarter, 1998 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY™ for a synopsis), and the H.323 PSTN gateway. It works in single or conference mode to support multiple-party conversations, and allows users to make direct calls to e-mail and IP addresses, as well as phone numbers. For more information or to upgrade from the previous version of JavaPhone, visit the Web site at www.haifa.il.ibm.com/javbro.htm.


Internet Video Phone
Intel Corporation
2200 Mission College Blvd.
Santa Clara, CA 95052

Intel has bundled its Internet Video Phone Software with the Create & Share Camera Pack, and has also released a free trial version of the software in hopes of connecting more of its customers. The Internet Video Phone enables users to make audio-only or audio with video calls through the Internet.

Users must have an Intel Pentium processor operating at 166MHz or faster, 16 MB of RAM, Windows 95/98, a 28.8 Kbps or faster modem, and Netscape Navigator 3.0 or Microsoft Internet Explorer 3.0 or higher. Sound ability through speakers or a headset plus a microphone are also required, as well as a PC camera for the optional video.

Customers who purchase the full package will receive an Intel PC camera as well as the Intel Gallery, which allows users to store video, still shots, and audio files in a digital album. The package also comes with a software CD-ROM of Internet Video Phone that users may send to a friend or associate to expedite communications. Visit Intel's Web site at www.intel.com for more information.


IRIS Internet Video Phone 2.5
MM Art, LLC
P.O. Box 6487
Burbank, CA 91510

MM Art presents Version 2.5 of its free Video Phone software, which allows users to talk and video conference with others throughout the world. The application includes white pages of other IRIS users searchable by name, e-mail, company, country, spoken languages, or topics. Callers can also create their own phonebooks for quick access and connections.

IRIS Video Phone includes user-specific processing of calls, video, and voice mail capabilities, as well as a customizable answering machine service that allows a user to define an outgoing greeting message. The application also features call muting, full-duplex capabilities with automatic voice detection, caller ID, auto-redial, and enhanced user information. Callers can also choose to text chat, protect themselves from unwanted calls through an access code, and display their photos and other information. The software is compatible with Windows 3.1/95/NT, and automatically detects a user's operating system and installs the proper version. For more information or to download the software, visit the product Web site at www.irisphone.com.


iVisit
iXL, Inc.
1888 Emery St.
Atlanta, GA 30318

iXL offers iVisit, free multiparty video chat software originally introduced by BoxTop, which merged with two other companies to form iXL in May of 1998. iVisit enables the independent flow of data through direct peer-to-peer connectivity, and produces 4-bit grayscale video in multiple window sizes, scalable by both source and recipient. The application is supported by Windows 95/NT and Power Macintosh System 7.5 or better, and offers optimum video frame rates on 28.8 Kbps modems by using its own algorithms.

iVisit also offers a conference directory server for managing thousands of contacts and dozens of conferences with optional and easy to install personal security. It utilizes Lucent Technologies elemedia group codecs, and conveniently offers feedback checks to ensure transmission rates are scaled to fit the current network capacity. iVisit does not require a central server, reflector, or special hardware other than a QuickTime-compatible video device for Macintosh and a Video for Windows-compatible device. The software also requires a SoundBlaster 16-compatible sound card. For more information, or to download the software, visit www.ivisit.com.


CoolTalk
Netscape Communications Corporation
501 E. Middlefield Road
Mountainview, CA 94043

Bundled with Netscape Navigator 3.0, CoolTalk is unique in that it operates on Windows 3.1/95/NT, MacOS, SunOS, Solaris, HP-UX, Digital Unix, and IRIX. The application enables high-quality audio conferencing, a whiteboard for image viewing and editing, and text-based communications through a chat tool. CoolTalk allows full-duplex sound and includes a speed dialer, answering machine, caller ID, call screening, and mute buttons. Multiple compression audio formats allow low-bandwidth operation as well as the highest audio quality for users with high-speed modems and fast network connections.

Netscape plans to use CoolTalk as the basis for upcoming LiveMedia applications based on the H.323 standard. For more information, visit Netscape's Web site at www.netscape.com.


PhoneFree 4.0
Big Bits Software, Inc.
332 Bleecker St.
New York, NY 10014

Big Bits Software, Inc. has released PhoneFree 4.0, including Active PhoneBook, which allows users to create and maintain a personal list of other users and know when they are online. The software is available as a free 15-day trial, and can be downloaded from the product Web site. It features integrated voice mail, a whiteboard, text chat, call screening, roaming profiles for installation on multiple systems, and full-duplex audio.

One of the nice features of PhoneFree is that it is a fully integrated plug-in with Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer so callers may access the "white pages" of user listings as well as administration screens online. Users can place a call merely by clicking on the other user's white pages entry. PhoneFree requires Windows 95/NT, a 486 100Mhz or faster computer, a 28.8 Kbps or faster modem, a Windows-compatible sound system, and Netscape or Internet Explorer.

Another convenient feature is that voice mail is stored on the PhoneFree server and is logged, even if the user's computer is turned off. Users can then review messages remotely and decide which ones they wish to retrieve, to avoid massive voice mail attachments and possible voice spams. For additional information, visit the PhoneFree Web site at www.phonefree.com.


PowWow 3.7
Tribal Voice
1 Victor Square
Scotts Valley, CA 95066

Tribal Voice's "Internet community and communications" software allows up to nine users to establish real-time point-to-multipoint text or voice chat sessions. The recently released PowWow 3.7 prompts users to set up Personal Portals in three easy steps for individual communications connections including instant messaging, telephony, buddy lists, and group chat. The software, which is available for free download, offers the option of creating a PowWow Community by purchasing a license from Tribal, and then configuring access to the community according to user specifications.

PowWow also features InstaVoice, which allows users to record and send messages of up to one minute in length or 15K, using automatic 50:1 compression to record natural-sounding voices. The software allows for Web tours, multiuser games and whiteboards for exchanging sketches and drawings, bulletin boards, and file and sound sharing. For more information, visit the Tribal Web site at www.tribal.com.


VDOPhone 3.5
VDOnet Corp.
170 Knowles Dr., Ste. 206
Los Gatos, CA 95035

For the convenience of connecting over any TCP/IP network, VDOnet offers VDOPhone 3.5, the latest version of its video conferencing software. VDOPhone allows dial-up connections over analog and digital phone lines, high-speed frame relay, LAN, and T1 connections. The software is capable of providing video resolution up to 15 frames per second, depending on the user's available bandwidth.

The latest version of VDOPhone offers an echo cancellation feature to eliminate echoes and deliver hands-free speakerphone-quality audio. The software also allows users to create a virtual business card with their names, e-mail addresses, and a brief description, to be displayed as a screening device for each incoming call. The application allows users to build up a photo album so they may dial merely by clicking on a picture.

VDOPhone requires Windows 95/98 and supports H.324 for modem-to-modem connections as well as a proprietary protocol for IP connections. Sending video requires a parallel port camera, an analog camera connected to a video capture board, or a USB camera connected to the USB PC port. Audio usage requires a 16-bit sound card with recommended full-duplex capability as well as a sound card-compatible microphone. For more information, or to download a trial version of the software, visit the company's Web site at www.vdo.net.


Internet Conference Professional 2.1
VocalTec Communications
35 Industrial Parkway
Northvale, NJ 07647

For fast corporate audio and data conferencing, VocalTec offers the Internet Conference Professional (ICP) 2.1, designed to work with VocalTec's Conference Server and part of its Atrium Conferencing Suite. The software is compatible with any TCP/IP based network for holding presentations, conducting meetings, and collaborating on documents through multipoint audio over the Internet or an intranet.

ICP 2.1 works with existing hardware, and is compatible with Microsoft Office and any other application that supports OLE. OLE documents can be loaded directly into the software, and placed on its whiteboard for full editing. New features in Version 2.1 include multiparty audio, a moderator-based operation mode for conference control, and a private meeting option. For more information, or to download a free temporary version of the software, visit VocalTec's Web site at www.vocaltec.com.


Video VoxPhone Gold
E-Tech Canada Limited
7725 Birchmount Rd., Unit 4
Markham, ON
Canada L3R 9X3

Video VoxPhone Gold comes packaged with audio and video accessories to provide a solution for customers. The software is compatible with H.323 and H.263 protocols, as well as all other major Internet telephony applications. It includes full-duplex ability, and computer-to-phone communications. Voxware, which developed the product, has used a new generation of voice compression technology to improve audio quality, and RT24, RT28, RT29, and G.723 advance codecs are included, and can be selected at the user's discretion.

VoxPhone Gold allows five-party conferencing, live-motion video, and a global online user list and directory. The software also enables multiple line calling, caller ID, call blocking, voice e-mail, and VoiceFonts for controlling the way your voice sounds to other users. The application comes on CD-ROM with a tutorial movie as well as a manual. To download a limited trial version, or for more information, visit the product Web site at www.voxphone.com.


Sphericall 2.0
Sphere Communications Inc.
Two Energy Dr.
Lake Bluff, IL 60044-1453

For employing telephony on an ATM network, Sphere Communications has announced the latest version of its flagship product, Sphericall 2.0. The gateway product connects telephones and the PSTN to an ATM network, transporting calls over the ATM's LAN or WAN. Multiple servers work together to operate as one PBX in the new version, allowing a caller in one location to directly dial any phone on the network.

The product utilizes existing ATM backbones and T1 connections to provide advanced telephony services at a minimum cost, without sacrificing Quality of Service (QoS) or toll-grade voice quality. New features include full support of direct inward dialing to user-defined numbers, support for reserving one or more emergency phone number lines, and support for multiprocessor servers. Version 2.0 also has list capability for granting or restricting access to individuals or groups, and supports digital PSTN interfaces.

The application can provide phone service and PBX features to more than 1,000 users, and preserves the existing legacy network to desktops while allowing an upgrade to full ATM at any time. Voice and data traffic are optimized through dynamic utilization of bandwidth, and the need for dedicated tie lines or expensive circuit emulation is eliminated through switched virtual circuits. For more information, visit Sphere's Web site at www.spherecom.com.


CyberCall 3.0
ATIO Corporation
7301 Ohms Lane
Minneapolis, MN 55439

The latest version of CyberCall from ATIO allows businesses to offer Web interaction, traditional phone access, e-mail, and fax capabilities over the same platform. CyberCall 3.0 is designed to help companies deliver superior customer service in order to attract and retain customers. The CyberCall Interaction Gateway routes all customer requests to the appropriate agent, regardless of whether they are sent by telephone, fax, or e-mail. An automatic call distributor selects the appropriate agent to respond to the query, and delivers the customer information to that agent prior to interaction.

The software is built on an open systems platform for integration with main data warehouses and business applications. A built-in toolkit provides several layers of connectivity and Application Programming Interfaces. CyberCall's easy configuration allows businesses to begin implementing capabilities immediately, and set up their entire system in a matter of weeks. For additional information, or to try the Web module of CyberCall, visit the ATIO Web site at www.atio.com.


TransCOM
COM2001 Technologies, Inc.
2035 Corte Del Nogal, Ste. 200
Carlsbad, CA 92009

The TransCOM application enables unified messaging for voice mail, e-mail, and faxes over regular phone lines from virtually anywhere. The 32-bit, object-oriented software works with Microsoft's Telephony Application Program Interface (TAPI), and Messaging Application Program Interface (MAPI) to provide universal flexibility. It allows management of stored and real-time communications from any standard telephone or cellular phone using simple voice commands.

The software includes the built-in Alexis Personal Assistant, which allows users to set up profiles to allow important calls and e-mail to be routed to them through voice recognition and text-to-speech, from anywhere in the world. It supports Internet voice mail, caller ID screen pops, conferencing, forwarding, and Web site access. Digital PBX features allow multiple line appearances, and attended and blind transfers. The software is currently only available as shareware, although registering it entitles users to technical support. For more information, visit COM2001 at www.com2001.com.


Enterprise Interaction Center (EIC)
Interactive Intelligence, Inc.
3500 DePauw Blvd., Ste. 1060
Indianapolis, IN 46268

Interactive Intelligence's EIC is a Windows NT-based communications server that combines the functions of PBX, IVR, ACD, fax server, voice mail system, voice logger, Web gateway, and CTI server into one software solution. It is designed to connect multiple locations through remote administration, network management, reporting, and supervision.

The EIC is capable of turning end-user workstations into graphical telephones from which to dial, transfer, and conference through a simple point-and-click interface. The phone offers analog and digital support, voice recording, call statistics, queues, user reporting and status options, and call information dialogue. The software manages all internal and external interactions on NT and easily integrates with Exchange, SQL Server, and IIS. A multithread Java-based engine can process thousands of phone calls, faxes, chats, and e-mails.

The product also comes with an Interaction Client side application, which turns Windows 95/NT machines into graphical consoles for telephone interaction via TCP/IP. The software can support 200 to 300 users on a single server, as well as distributed organizations through multiple servers. For additional information, visit the company's Web site at www.inter-intelli.com.







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