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IBM Lotus bulks up Mac support

Notes for Mac to add support for SameTime IM and Web client running Firefox. IBM also to support Intel-based Macs.

IBM's Lotus division plans to bulk up the Macintosh version of its Notes client software, citing the Mac's growing market share.

At the Lotusphere conference in Orlando, Fla., IBM executives said Monday that the company will beef up its Notes software on the Mac to run IBM's Lotus SameTime instant messaging. It will also release a Web version of Notes that will run the Firefox browser on the Mac.

That release, called Notes 7.02, is expected to be completed in the third quarter of this year and to run on Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.

In addition, IBM said it is planning to create Notes products that run on Apple Computer's newly released Intel machines. But it has not set a date for those releases, said Ken Bisconti, vice president of workplace, portal and collaboration products at IBM.

Big Blue has written Macintosh clients for Notes for years and had planned to create a Mac version of Notes 7, which was released for Windows in September.

Seeing growing interest in the Mac, IBM decided to expand its offering by adding support for SameTime to the Macintosh version, Bisconti said. The company will release a Linux-based Notes client that runs SameTime as well.

"There's a growing realization that the Mac community is growing," Bisconti said. "It's a significant enough population...even if it's 5 percent to 10 percent of the total corporate deployment, that it makes it a requisite community to communicate with the rest of the organization."

IBM's Lotus product line encompasses a range of collaboration-oriented products, including e-mail, instant messaging and Web conferencing. Its primary competitor is Microsoft, which is also investing heavily in messaging and collaboration products.

The "Hannover" version of Notes and Domino server software, which was demonstrated on Monday, is slated to go into beta testing later this year and ship in 2007, Bisconti said.

Corporate-consumer IM linked
Also on Monday, IBM said its forthcoming Lotus SameTime 7.5 will interoperate with consumer instant-messaging systems from Yahoo and America Online.

Bisconti said that SameTime 7.5, which sports a revamped user interface, will be available around the middle of the year. The integration with Yahoo IM and AIM will be available in the second half of the year. IBM also announced its intent to link SameTime with GoogleTalk, Google's instant-messaging service.

Separately, IBM said its first Workplace products that support the OpenDocument document standard are generally available.

The company's Workplace Managed Client 2.6 includes a series of editors for editing text documents, spreadsheets or presentations that save documents in the OpenDocument format.