Microsoft Mail enhanced with voice messaging

Business Wire

March 26, 1990

REDMOND, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Microsoft Corp. Monday announced the integration of voice messaging capabilities into Microsoft Mail for AppleTalk networks.

Mail is the first business application to incorporate sound recording, compression and playback technology and was developed by Farallon Computing Inc.

This voice messaging capability will dramatically increase Microsoft Mail users' efficiency by enabling them to send voice messages or to annotate a written message with voice by using the new Mail Voice Form. Mail users will now be able to send brief messages more quickly and easily, and they will also be able to annotate a voice message with a written one, giving emphasis to key points. Voice messaging exploits the Single Copy Storage (SCS) and intelligent Voice Form technologies inherent in Microsoft Mail.

``Voice messaging breaks down another barrier to using computers because it enables users to easily and quickly communicate electronically with their voices,'' said Jeff Raikes, manager of Microsoft's office business unit. ``We believe that Mail's intelligent architecture, combined with Farallon's sound technology, will make communicating via electronic mail even more popular.''

Mail's SCS and Voice Compression Technologies

Maximize Network Efficiency

Voice messaging, like graphics, is memory-intensive; a simple voice by using message of 15-20 seconds can easily require 60K of memory. Single Copy Storage, which is the core of Microsoft Mail's architecture, assures that these memory demands do not degrade the performance of the network. SCS, first delivered on the Macintosh with Microsoft Mail, guarantees that each message sent on the network, whether to one person or 100 people, will be copied and stored only once.

Competing electronic mail packages use file-based storage, where each message constitutes a separate file. The file-based storage approach is inefficient not only in its use of server resources but also hn the amount of CPU time and disk space it takes up. For example, if a user were to send the same message about an upcoming departmental meeting to 50 people, the server must copy -- and then store -- 50 messages. Without SCS, a single voice announcement of the upcoming meeting to 50 people would require 3000K (or 3MB) of memory storage.

Microsoft also makes use of Farallon's specialized compression technology to improve the use of voice messaging. Microsoft Mail is the only mail product that offers network managers a choice of voice compression ratios. The network manages can either choose 4:1 compression, which delivers higher quality sound but takes up more memory, or the 8:1 ratio, which requires less memory but slightly reduces sound quality. The network manager chooses the most effective type of voice compression based on available memory and the quality of voice message desired.

Farallon Computing and Microsoft Make Voice

Messaging Easily Accessible

To enhance Microsoft Mail with voice messaging capabilities, a user simply needs to install a Voice Form on the Mail server. To send voice messages, the Microsoft Mail user must have a Farallon Mac Recorder as well as the Farallon Sound Driver installed in the System Folder. To receive a voice message, a user does not need any additional software or hardware. If a voice message is sent to a user who has not installed the Sound Driver, the Microsoft Mail system will recognize this, and a dialog box will appear asking for permission to install the Sound Driver.

Microsoft Mail's voice messaging capabilities can be used for sending a quick voice-only message or a message that includes text and voice to provide emphasis. For example, a user could key a meeting agenda into Mail and add a voice message stating that it is crucial for the recipient to attend. To add a voice annotation to a message, the Mail user clicks on the Talk button in the Voice Form on screen, and then annotates the message simply by speaking into the MacRecorder. The user can play back the message to verify its contents and then send it off to the recipient. The recipient can reply or forward the voice message to someone else.

``We are providing an industry standard using digitized sound in applications,'' said John Chaffee, developer relations liaison at Farallon Computing Inc. ``We do this by providing strategic partners, such as Microsoft Corporation, with the necessary tools for audio recording, play back and compression of digitized sounds. Microsoft has done an elegant job of implementing our sound technology into its Microsoft Mail package.''

Microsoft's Forms Technology Makes Voice Messaging Easy

Microsoft Mail allows users to send messages on customized forms. Unlike other mail products, every screen the Mail client displays is a form that can be easily customized or replaced simply by using the Forms utility. Microsoft Mail users can develop intelligent forms that contain objects such as check boxes or buttons. When these objects are activated, Form Control Procedures (FCP) that control the behavior of the form are launched. For example, the Talk button in the Voice Form is an object that launches the appropriate FCP, which allows voice input. Microsoft was able to easily develop the Voice Form for voice messaging because of the intelligent form technology in Microsoft Mail. To take advantage of the Voice Form, a user simply installs it on the Mail server. No modification of the server or the client is required.

Pricing, Availability and System Requirements

Registered users of Microsoft Mail version 2.0 can now obtain the free Voice Form by calling Microsoft Corp. Customer Service at 800/426-9400. After April 1, the Microsoft Mail version 2.0 server will be shipped with the Voice Form included in the standard Form utility.

The Farallon Sound Digitizer bundle, which includes the MacRecorder Voice Digitizer and the Sound Driver, is available now for a suggested retail price of $149. Also included in the bundle is a HyperCard utility that allows users to record directly into HyperCard. Interested customers should call Farallon Corp. at, 415/596-9000.

Microsoft Mail's server configuration allows an unlimited number of users to be connected to a server, so the system can grow as organizational needs expand. The server starter kit includes software and documentation for one Macintosh server and one Macintosh workstation, plus a network administrator's guide. Workstation clients include software and documentation for one workstation (Macintosh or PC). Also available are 20-unit workstation clients for the Macintosh. The suggested retail price for the server starter kit is $395; for a single Macintosh or PC workstation client, $125; and for 20 Macintosh workstation clients, $1495.

System requirements for Macintosh servers and clients are a Macintosh computer with 1 MB of RAM; System version 6.0.2 or higher; and an AppleTalk, EtherTalk or compatible local area network. In addition, the server requires a Macintosh-compatible SCSI or serial hard disk that boots the system file at startup. Microsoft Mail is compatible with MultiFinder.

Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) develops, markets and supports a wide range of software for business and professional use, including operating systems, languages and application programs, as well as books, hardware and CD-ROM products for the microcomputer marketplace.


-- Microsoft and the Microsoft logo are registered trademarks of Microsoft Corp.

-- AppleTalk, EtherTalk, HyperCard, and Macintosh are registered trademarks and MultiFinder is a trademark of Apple Computer Inc.

CONTACT: Microsoft Corp., Redmond Sarah Charf, 206/882-8080 or The Waggener Group, Portland Connie Snyder or Krista Mohr, 503/245-0905

Copyright (c) 1990, Business Wire