IBM ties Sametime IM to Office

Using Eclipse, Big Blue seeks to open up its corporate instant-messaging to other applications.

IBM later this summer plans to release an overhauled version of its Sametime instant-messaging software that's designed to integrate closely with Microsoft Office applications.

Sametime 7.5, which will be available in about two months, will allow people to use instant-messaging features without having to leave Office applications. For example, a person could open up an e-mail inside Outlook and find out whether the sender is available on Sametime and where he or she is located.

Big Blue also said it will offer Sametime, which is aimed at corporate customers, on mobile devices from Research In Motion and Nokia, and on those that use Windows Mobile. The new version can automatically figure out a user's location based on an Internet Protocol address, IBM said.

The strategy behind the changes is to make Sametime more extensible, said Ken Bisconti, vice president of workplace, portal and collaboration products at Big Blue.

IBM has rewritten Sametime to run on the Eclipse Rich Client framework, open-source software for running desktop components. This means that the instant-messaging application can host Eclipse-compatible programs, Bisconti noted.

For example, a person could chat with a colleague whose location would be shown on Google Maps. Or people could display bookmarked Web sites from Delicious on Sametime, Bisconti said.

"This allows any Eclipse developer to build plug-ins and other extensions, so it's not just an end-user product but also a platform for a whole ecosystem of real-time applications," he said.

The same Eclipse framework will be used in the "Hannover" release of Lotus Notes, which is due in the spring of 2007, Bisconti added.

Bisconti noted that the Sametime integration with Microsoft Office will apply to Office 2000, Office XP and the forthcoming Office 2007.

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