IBM will update its Lotus Notes messaging client later this month by adding integration with instant messaging and inbox tools designed to counter email overload. By integrating IM with email, IBM is embarking down a path that competitors, namely Microsoft, have indicated they are also pursuing.
Leveraging the power of presence awareness, Lotus Notes 6.5 will bring Lotus Instant Messaging and its related presence capabilities into the Notes interface. The 6.5 welcome page will now display the IM contact list, and all names throughout Notes will be live with presence-awareness information such as whether someone is online and their availability status.
IM is "better inside the Notes client," product marketing manager at IBM, Alan Lepofsky, said. "Anytime you see a name, you can interact with it."
The updated Notes version features a toolbar specifically for IM-related tasks such as starting a meeting, initiating a chat session, or adding a contact name.
In an effort to better control IM contact lists, IBM added a feature to dynamically update such lists from email messages.
When a user opens a document in Notes from someone on their IM contact list, Notes temporarily populated the IM contact list with the sender's name and information from the subject line of the email, Lepofsky said.
New inbox features in Lotus Notes 6.5 include the ability to drag and drop items such as email messages and documents from the inbox to the calendar and to-do list sections; automatic filing of junk mail into separate folders; and flags to mark important emails and indicate whether an email has been forwarded or answered.
Version 6.5 also includes improvements to the Lotus Workplace welcome page such as extending search to websites, Notes domain catalogues, servers, databases, and local server replicas; as well as the ability to launch applications, documents, databases, and websites from within the workplace.