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Lotus Notes and Sametime get more features

IBM's Lotus Sametime 7.5 will add VoIP chat and video conferencing to its features list, the company said at Lotusphere this week. IBM also previewed its next version of Notes.

IBM's Lotus Sametime 7.5, whose IM and collaboration tools can be leveraged by Domino licensees, will enable users to use VoIP chat and video conferencing when it is released later this year.

And soon thereafter, Sametime will connect with AOL, Yahoo! and Google instant messaging, the company said.

This has significant potential for Domino, said Robert P. Mahowald, program director for collaborative computing research at IDC, in Framingham, Mass. "Our numbers show that 30% to 35% of consumer accounts are held by corporate users. Given those numbers, clearly 50 million instant messaging (IM) accounts worldwide are used at corporate workplaces."

IBM discussed these upcoming features at its annual Lotusphere event in Orlando, Fla., this week. At the conference, IBM also gave sneak previews of its next versions of Lotus Notes, code-named Hannover, and Lotus Domino. The new releases, scheduled to be shipped in 2007, will offer service-oriented architecture (SOA) support and server-managed clients.

Sametime 7.5, meanwhile, will be the first major enterprise IM client built on the open Eclipse framework, which will make possible the development of plug-ins for integrated video, chat rooms, calendar integration and other business functionality. Sametime 7.5 will also serve as the IM client for future versions of IBM Workplace Collaboration Services, said IBM.

How soon Sametime and Domino users can access the consumer instant messaging services is unclear. IBM has only said that it is now working with AOL and Yahoo! to let Sametime users connect with users of AIM, ICQ, Apple iChat, Yahoo! and Google Talk messaging services. In addition, Lotus Sametime 7.5 customers will have access to AOL's AIM Clearinghouse service, which will make it easy to connect with other enterprise instant messaging users.

That will include mobile users. Research In Motion Ltd., one of the 135 or so vendors at Lotusphere, showcased its forthcoming BlackBerry Enterprise Server version 4.1, which adds support for Sametime and Domino 7. The new BlackBerry version will let users read Domino encrypted mail, access IBM DB2 and let Sametime users chat wirelessly.

Other Lotus Notes- and Domino-related news from Lotusphere 2006 include:

  • Expanded support for Mac OS X, including support for Lotus Notes 7 on Apple's Mac OS X version 10.4 Tiger with integrated Lotus Sametime instant messaging and plans to support Apple's new Intel-based Macs
  • IBM's plans for new Mac support for Domino Web Access, IBM's browser-based messaging client, via Mozilla's Firefox browser
  • IBM's plans for more Notes/SAP solutions before mid-year
  • An IBM "Move2Lotus on Linux" initiative for IBM Business Partners to woo enterprises away from Microsoft and toward Notes and Domino on Linux
  • Trilog Group's introduction of Darwino, a data conversion tool that converts Lotus Notes and Domino documents into the IBM Workplace Designer XML document repository. It is slated to be available in beta testing for developers in the second quarter
  • Proposion Inc.'s release of Proposion N2N, its ADO.NET data driver for accessing Lotus Notes and Domino from a Microsoft .NET environment. Proposion N2N V3 adds support for the Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 and Microsoft Visual Studio 2005
  • Intellisync Corp.'s release of Intellisync Mobile Suite for Notes and Domino 7. The solution allows users to send and receive Domino e-mail, files, and data from wireless devices.

Kevin Ferguson is a freelance technology journalist based in Arlington, Mass.

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