Collaboration Technologies: A User Perspective

Windows Vista® contains important advancements in collaboration technology in the areas of telephony, fax services, remote desktop, and peer-to-peer (P2P) communications. These technologies, and applications built upon them (for example, Remote Assistance, Windows Live Messenger, and Microsoft Office Communicator), are intended to keep Windows Vista the premiere consumer and business communication platform.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Communications

P2P and ad-hoc communication networked functionality is becoming increasingly common and important in both personal and enterprise computing environments. Microsoft Windows Messenger and Microsoft Office Communicator are P2P communication and collaboration applications, respectively, that exemplify this trend.

Windows Vista has greater P2P capabilities. The new Windows Collaboration application provides a straightforward way to create a multi-user collaboration session and invite other networked Windows Vista users. During such a session, users can share messages, presentations, applications and documents, and even whole desktops, all without the need for a centralized server or manager. The following screenshot shows the opening screen of the Windows Collaboration application:

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If the user starts a collaboration session, the following main interface is displayed:

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When using the Windows Vista P2P infrastructure, a tray icon will appear that indicates that the People Near Me collaboration host (the user-mode p2phost.exe process) is running, which is responsible for listening for incoming invitations and for popping up UI asking the user to authorize the launch of an application. Double-clicking the icon displays the People Near Me property sheet, which enables the user to sign-in and out, and set collaboration properties as shown in the following screenshot:

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Windows Vista also features unified address and contacts management so that this information can be shared uniformly across communication applications, including email, P2P, and line-of-business applications. A new Contact Exchange Wizard assists in swapping contacts with other Windows Vista users.

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