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Novell updates its collaboration software

GroupWise 6.5 includes improvements to the user interface and to integration tools for third-party developers. In the works: instant messaging capabilities.

Novell on Wednesday unveiled the newest version of its collaboration software, GroupWise 6.5, and said it will soon add instant messaging capabilities.

The software allows corporate users to manage documents, share calendars and control project workflow across network operating systems, including Novell NetWare, Windows NT and Windows 2000. Changes in version 6.5 include improvements to the user interface and to integration tools for third-party developers, Novell said.

The software allows employees to access business information via a Web browser on a desktop or a laptop PC, and from wireless handhelds like Research In Motion's BlackBerry devices. The upgrade is now available worldwide, the company announced at the CeBit trade fair in Hannover, Germany.

The Provo, Utah, company said that by next month it will add GroupWise Messenger to the software, allowing business customers to communicate using secure instant messaging. GroupWise Messenger is already available as a public beta.

Novell's not alone in working on collaboration software. Microsoft, id="942976">Oracle and others have taken a stronger interest in the field as businesses look for ways to get workers in different locations to share documents over the Internet.

The release of GroupWise 6.5 offers improved integration tools for third-party developers, a more secure messaging system and greater software stability, the company said. Because it is based on open standards, Novell said customers can receive additional products and support from third-party developers.

The software is priced at $650 for five users, going up to $3,250 for 25 users. For companies upgrading to the new release, the price will be about $345 for five users and $1,723 for 25 users.

A decade ago, Novell controlled more than 70 percent of the market for server operating systems. It began a steep decline in the face of greater competition from Microsoft and, more recently, from Linux sellers. The company still tries to compete in that market and has broadened its product focus, but still faces uncertainty as it tries to get its house back in order.