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Lotus ships instant communication tool

Lotus Development is adding instantaneous communication to its groupware product line with Sametime 1.0, a software tool for instant communication via the Web.

Lotus Development is adding instantaneous communication to its groupware product line.

The company today shipped Sametime 1.0, a software tool for instant communication via the Web.

Lotus said Sametime is a family of real-time communication and collaboration products that allow people to find others on the Web, regardless of their location, and to instantly communicate and share documents or other visual information. The real-time client-server package can be purchased as a standalone product or as a complement to Lotus Notes and Domino 4.6 and 5.

Sametime Connect Client software, Sametime Server, and support for third parties will make up the new product offering from the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based software maker. Sametime server software is priced from $5,000; client access licenses are $20 per user, Lotus said.

Sametime supports Lotus's new Knowledge Management strategy by facilitating people working in teams, networks, and "communities."

Two key acquisitions
Sametime's building blocks come from not only Cambridge, but also from south of the Mason Dixon line and even from the Mideast.

Backed by parent company IBM's deep pockets, Lotus purchased real-time software vendors Lexington, Kentucky-based DataBeam and Israeli-based Ubique. Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will be acquired by IBM and will become part of Lotus Communications Products Division. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Sametime is the result of the acquisitions. It combined application and data sharing from DataBeam and interaction tools such as chat, "buddy" awareness, and instant messaging from Ubique with its Notes and Domino groupware in future releases, beginning later this year.

Lotus said the real-time features will be supported by joint work with industry partners, such as America Online. AOL was one of the investors from which Ubique will be purchased.

Full set of real-time features
Sametime's features are based on the fundamental characteristics of real-time collaboration, which include awareness, conversation, and shared objects.

Conversation features within Sametime allows users to send instant messages and engage in online dialogues with coworkers. Once users are aware of colleagues' availability to talk, they can easily start a conversation using instant text messages or a chat session involving many people.

Shared objects technology enables users to conduct online meetings and share live documents or applications with workgroups using clients such as Microsoft NetMeeting, a Web browser, or Lotus Notes. As a conversation progresses, shared object capabilities in Sametime allow users to move among application-sharing within a single session. Users can share applications, like word processing, spreadsheets, and project management software, without requiring others to have that software installed.