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Comdex coverage by CNN and

Instant Notes: Lotus unwraps real time app

November 18, 1998
Web posted at: 2:09 PM ET

by Paul McNamara


(IDG) -- LAS VEGAS -- Lotus this week will release the first public beta of its new Sametime real time messaging application.

It will allow customers to exchange short messages, monitor the online status of colleagues and collaborate on shared documents -- all in real time.

Lotus expects Sametime, which was unveiled at Comdex/Fall '98, to extend the asynchronous abilities of its Notes client and Domino server with such functions as chat and real time document sharing. Sametime may also be deployed as a stand-alone client/server product.
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Customers and industry experts, while bullish on real time technology and the Lotus offerings, also have reservations about how quickly such products will spread from their roots in the consumer market into the corporate workplace.

The Lotus products include the Sametime Connect Client software and Sametime Server software, which let users swap instant messages, monitor the online status of co-workers and collaborate on documents and applications such as Microsoft's NetMeeting. The server can also be accessed via a Web browser, Notes 4.6 and the upcoming Notes 5.0 client for online conferencing. Connect Client users are able to specify who may or may not monitor their online status.

Joe Litton, lead programmer and analyst at GST Telecom in Vancouver, Wash., says his company is intrigued by Sametime, but put off by its system requirements.

"The stopper for us was that they require a separate physical server," Litton says. "We've got 25 or more sites scattered about and we've already got an applications server at each of them. We can't put another server at each site just to support this application."

Sametime Server runs on Windows NT 4.0, while the client software runs on Windows 95, 98 or NT.

The Sametime products are the fruit of Lotus having acquired DataBeam, a Lexington, Ky. maker of real time conferencing and distance learning servers; and Ubique, an Israeli software company.

Lotus expects to ship Sametime before year's end.

While prices were not announced, company officials said Sametime will carry server-based pricing and "a low client-access fee" designed to encourage enterprisewide deployment.

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