Since I posted about Parlano, a couple of people have asked me about persistent chat.
So.. (very briefly) most people understand Mail and Instant messaging. IM is usually 1:1, but we can have multiple users in a a chat. One of the major grumbles about LCS 2005 and Communicator 2005 was that when you escalated to Voice or Video chat it couldn't do more than 1:1. This has changed in OCS 2007 with the new communicator client: we have a "hub" component (called an MCU) which brings together the voice and video streams. Although it wasn't strictly necessary when 2007 users go from 1:1 to n-way IM conversation we also use an MCU.
Most people know about Internet Chat rooms; a hub of some kind has virtual "places" - so the room can be "persistent" i.e. it's always there even if no-one is on-line chatting in it. But the conversations are transient. If you're not in the room when someone says it you don't see it.
Persistent chat combines the idea of "Rooms" with the idea the chat itself being persistent - so you can look at what was said before you joined. The screen shot gives you some idea, the "rooms" or "Channels" as the Mind--Align product calls them are on the left, the participants on the right and the chat is in the middle. It's easier to manage and search than a Distribution List or Public folder / Newsgroup where each comment is a separate item. But it's not ad-hoc like an IM chat or chat room.
As I said before I never found myself pining for this functionality, but I know of plenty of customers who did. It will be interesting to see how this integrates with the existing products. It would be interesting too if the next version of Groove linked into both this and traditional IM instead of Groove's silo'd IM.