IBM Lotus Sametime faces increasing competition on two fronts as the number of stand-alone instant messaging and Web conferencing products and services continues to grow. Does this odd duck that combines two real-time collaboration tools in a single product still fit when each market grows more commoditized each day? Im testing Sametime 7.5 this week to find out.
IBM has invested a good deal in Sametime, rewriting the Sametime Connect IM client on the Eclipse framework, making it a cross-platform client, as well as easier for developers to extend the client to work with other real-time applications, such as videoconferencing systems.
Much of what IBM has done with the Sametime Connect client and the Web conferencing server focuses on the user, however, with the goal of making it easier to run Connect with co-workers and run online meetings. Given that Sametime is the granddaddy of corporate IM and Web conferencing, some of the changes in this release are somewhat surprising late additions, including spell-checking and emoticons. While these kinds of features may not seem overly important, they make Sametime more attractive to users.