London-based Braid Systems Ltd has launched messaging software to manage incoming and outgoing facsimile messages through a local area network. Called Fax Messenger, the system enables users on an MS-DOS based network to call up a list of recently arrived faxes, view any of them on screen and then, if required, print out messages either on the nearest fax machine or on a laser printer. When sending a fax the user can type the message on-screen, using a word processing package or Braid’s own editor, add an electronic signature, then send it directly to the facsimile machine at the other end. The system then tells the user if the fax has been transmitted or whether it cannot get through and the transmission has been aborted. Braid is mainly aiming the system at medium to large sized companies with multiple lines and distributed facsimile machines, perhaps spread across several floors. As well as speeding up the process of sending and receiving faxes, and eliminating problems of faxes going astray, Braid is selling the software as a complete fax management system. It has database facilities for filing incoming and outgoing documents, enabling organisations to track down documents months later or simply keep track of the facsimile costs to the organisation. The faxes can also be archived onto optical disk for long-term storage. However, managing the system requires a full-time operator to label incoming faxes and then either route them to the correct fax machines to be printed, enter them into a database for users throughout the organisations to retrieve or send a message to the appropriate user’s personal computer to say the fax has arrived. If the network is Novell NetWare-based, messages can be sent straight to the bottom line of user’s spreadsheets, otherwise the user has to periodically check the shared database to see the faxes in the system. Despite moves towards interoperability in X400 systems, for example IBM’s agreements with GE Information Services, MCI Communications US Sprint and AT&T, (CI No 1,521) Braid managing director Richard Little says that for the majority of users, this is the closest they will come to an external electronic messaging service for a long time. The pricing depends on configuration, and for 15 lines the cost is around UKP50,000.
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