IBM Integrates Sametime with MS Office

IBM is readying a major update to its Lotus Sametime collaboration software that the company says will include ties into Microsoft Office, SharePoint and Outlook.

The update to IBM's Web conferencing and instant messaging platform, Sametime 7.5, which is due out in the third quarter, is a step forward on a couple of fronts, the company claims. One of those is to expand its integration with other significant productivity suites including Office.

"What we're announcing today is the commitment to integrate [with the rest of the] ecosystem," said Akiba Saeedi, progam director for real-time collaboration products at IBM, in an interview.

In addition, Sametime 7.5 will provide interoperability with several public instant messaging formats from AOL, Yahoo and Google. "[It] lets you securely communicate with people in the public space [from within Sametime]," Saeedi said.

The update also adds the ability to have multi-party Voice over IP calls. Additionally, the update will provide direct connectivity to mobile devices from RIM (BlackBerry) and Nokia, as well as to Windows Mobile devices, the Armonk, N.Y. company said in a statement.

The Office integration will enable users to have access to Sametime features within their standard business applications. For instance, a user could send a Sametime instant message from within Word, Excel or PowerPoint. Alternately, within Outlook, a user could view presence information on colleagues before launching a Web conference or sending an instant message, or could schedule a Web conference from an Outlook calendar.

While Version 7.5 is due in the third quarter, the mobility features will not arrive until sometime in the fourth quarter, and the integration with Microsoft Office and SharePoint will be delivered in early 2007, the company said.

Sametime, which IBM brought out in 1998, is built on the Eclipse open-source framework. Sametime 7.5 will cost $55 per user.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.