Lotus Ships 'Sametime'

Lotus Development plans to ship its Sametime 1.0 collaborative products today, company officials announced last week.

The software will be available worldwide in 10 languages,according to the company. Sametime is an instant messaging program that allows users to "chat" via typed messages and to share and collaborate on documents in real time. Five more languages will be available by the end of January, according to Bethann Cregg, product marketing manager for Sametime.

Sametime server software costs $US5,000 with each user seat costing an additional $20, Cregg said. The product will be shipped through the traditional Lotus channels, via business partners and IBM, according to Cregg.

Cregg expects demand for the new product to be high among existing Lotus Notes and Domino users, and among software developers who will write new applications incorporating Sametime. During a roadshow completed in November, the Sametime team met with more than 200 business partners, many of whom will create new applications to work with Sametime, said Cregg. Cregg expects help-desk applications to be among the most important early applications to incorporate Sametime.

According to Lotus, Sametime is easy to install. "If you are a Notes and Domino customer, and familiar with that, you can have it up and running in one day," said Cregg. It is not necessary, however, to be an existing Notes or Domino customer to use the chat software, said Cregg, because Sametime can work as a stand-alone collaborative application.

Even customers who don't have Notes and Domino will find it easy to install, promised Cregg, but there are benefits for existing customers. For example, Lotus is shipping sample Sametime-server applications written with Notes and Domino, Cregg said. Sametime will also offer education and training schemes to get clients up and running quickly. Details about pricing for those programs was not yet available.

Sametime runs on a Windows NT platform in this release. "We are discussing Unix now. The overall plan is to support the platforms we support with the Lotus Notes and Domino," said Cregg. The team has not yet made a decision about Linux, Cregg said. Sametime works with any standard Web browser as well as with other collaborative tools, based on the T.120 standard, such as Microsoft's NetMeeting.

The languages available immediately are North American English, UK English, Brazilian Portuguese, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese and Korean and Spanish. The five languages to be available by end of January are Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish.

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