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Microsoft acquires startup, adds to Exchangeby Paul McNamaraWASHINGTON -- Microsoft Exchange customers can expect a future version of the e-mail/groupware platform to include instant messaging and the ability to show when other users are online.

These new features will come courtesy of Flash, a US-based startup acquired last week by Microsoft.

While instant messaging products boast different features, most rely on peer-to-peer TCP/IP connections between parties who are online simultaneously, rather than the store-and-forward mechanism of client/ server e-mail. Messages appear in the corner of a user's screen, and a small window listing colleagues and friends keeps the user abreast of their online status and availability.

Terms of the Microsoft/Flash deal were not announced, nor did Microsoft provide a timetable for integrating the Flash technology into Exchange.

Flash was poised to market its own Windows 95- and NT-based client/server instant messaging product before being snapped up by Microsoft.

Other major messaging vendors are also following suit, including Lotus and Netscape who have cast their lots with Instant Messenger, while Novell said it has an online presence notification capability under development for its GroupWise product.

Microsoft and Lotus are among the vendors developing a standard way for these new messaging offerings to work with each other.

Their Rendezvous Protocol is currently being pushed along the Internet Engineering Task Force standard track.

Cabletron honcho's big plans

by Robin Schreier Hohman

ROCHESTER -- In the six months since Don Reed took over as Cabletron Systems' CEO, one thing has become perfectly clear: this is no longer Bob Levine's Cabletron.

Fresh from acquiring Digital's network organisation and routing switch startup YAGO Systems, Reed said he is now on the prowl for companies that can help Cabletron leapfrog its three largest internetwork rivals.

He's eyeing software vendors that can extend the company's Spectrum network management platform, as well as remote access technology companies that can bolster Cabletron's core switches.

Reed recently outlined a series of efforts which include:

Establishing a US West Coast presence alongside Cabletron's bigger rivals Creating an electronic commerce site to rival that of Cisco Systems Knocking down barriers between Cabletron -- known for its strong direct sales organisation -- and resellersIn addition, Reed is restructuring Cabletron into three businesses: the Enterprise Business Unit, the Service Provider Business Unit and the Software Business Unit.

The Enterprise Business Unit encompasses the products at the core of the old Cabletron -- switches and hubs -- as well as the people and technology obtained via the Digital Network Products Business acquisition. The division is being run by John d'Auguste, former vice president of operations at Gateway 2000.

The Service Provider Business Unit will focus on developing products and supporting customers in the Internet service provider and telecommunications carrier markets.

Cabletron will still keep the top 600 accounts for its direct sales force, but "anything beyond that, we are channel-ready on", he said.

Cabletron is also building another avenue through which customers can buy the company's products: a Web site. The electronic commerce site will work much the same way Cisco's has. "We're shamelessly stealing from our competition," Reed said.


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