Adam Gartenberg's Blog

Business Analytics and Optimization, IBM and Social Marketing

Announcing Lotus Sametime Standard 8 and Lotus Sametime Entry 8

The official announcement letters for Lotus Sametime Standard 8 and Lotus Sametime Entry 8 are out.  The products themselves should be available for download within the next few days (targeted for 11/29).

The release of Lotus Sametime Standard 8 is an exciting one because it not only brings support for Domino 8 (something I know a lot of our customers have been interested in) and Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (something I know a lot of my readers have been interested in), but a number of other enhancements in the end user experience, in server support, in mobile client support, and in the installation and administration of Lotus Sametime Gateway.  See below for more on Lotus Sametime Entry, which is something that should be of particular interest to any of you not currently using Lotus Notes.

You can expect a lot more details to be available on a revamped Lotus Sametime website in a few days (timed to roughly coincide with product availability), but in the mean time, please see below for some of the highlights on what's new in Lotus Sametime Standard 8.  

And as a reminder, Lotus Sametime Standard is the new "Lotus Sametime;"  this is the entitlement and upgrade path for current Lotus Sametime customers, and it delivers all of the capabilities currently available in Lotus Sametime, along with the enhancements called out below.  Let me say that again, as for some reason questions have come up as to whether we would pull capabilities out in changing the name from Sametime to Sametime Standard:  All of the capabilities that previously were included and entitled in Lotus Sametime 7.5.1 still exist in Lotus Sametime Standard 8.0.

So, some of the highlights:

End User Enhancements:

1.        Improved performance:  Lotus Sametime Connect starts more quickly and chat histories open almost twice as fast
2.        Enhanced Microsoft Office Integration:  A new, optional, Lotus Sametime toolbar for Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Excel make it even easier to search for your contacts and to start chats inside Microsoft Office. Lotus Sametime Standard now supports Microsoft Office 2007 and Microsoft Outlook 2007, and makes it easier to install the Microsoft Office integration components. In addition, IBM Lotus Notes users can use smart tags in Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint.
3.        Apple Macintosh: Apple Leopard OS 10.5 support, point-to-point video, location awareness, alerts on new and incoming IMs (bouncing dock icon), and you can now launch Lotus Sametime Connect at startup
4.        Lotus Sametime Mobile enhancements:  Support for new devices (RIM BlackBerry 8300 Series (Curve), Nokia E-series E51/E65/E90, Sony Ericsson P1i, Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 devices [Standard & Professional], enhanced new message notification, and up to 50% reduction in idle power/bandwidth consumption.
5.        Contact search and icons:  Contact search and the icon toolbar have been moved to above the Contacts panel, so they are always accessible.  
6.        Streamlined alerts:  Single-click, one-time alert for when someone comes online
7.        Updated screen capture capabilities:  New annotation tools make it easier to highlight screen captures before sending them to a chat partner, and you can now capture a screenshot and copy or save it as an image file even if you're not in a chat.  
8.        Prevent accidentally starting large chats:  This new option can prompt you for confirmation when you start a chat with more than a specified number of people
9.        New options for Single Sign-On (SSO):  New options for SSO for Microsoft Windows users, which relies on the Microsoft Windows SPNEGO mechanism.  This mode can be used for general SSO based on the current Microsoft Windows session, and can also can be used with systems where users use a Common Access Card to log in.  NOTE: Lotus Sametime's original, password-based, Microsoft Windows SSO is still supported.
10.        Notification settings for plugins: Notification preferences for plugins can be set in the same preference panel as the standard Lotus Sametime notifications
11.        Chat date stamps:  Include date stamps in chat transcripts (in addition to time stamps)
12.        Plugin management:  Automatically migrate prior-installed plugins

Web Conferencing Enhancements:

1.        Enhancements to "fit to screen" and "full screen mode:"  Improved display quality when a Web conference participant selects "fit to screen," and buttons are now visible buttons in full-screen mode so that it's easier to return to the meeting room.
2.        Meeting Center search:  The new Search facility in the Lotus Sametime meeting center makes it easy to find Web conferences
3.        Dynamic language display for the Lotus Sametime Meeting Center:  The Sametime Meeting Center can now be dynamically displayed in the meeting participant's local language, based on the preferences set on their PC.
4.        IBM AIX and Solaris application sharing:  Web conference participants can now share applications from desktop clients running IBM AIX or Sun Solaris.
5.        Concurrent use monitoring:  Enhanced monitoring and reporting for concurrent usage of Web conferences
6.        Additional Web Conference policies:  New policies allow administrators to control which users are able to share applications or take control of other's screens in a Web conference

General Enhancements:

1.        IBM Lotus Domino 8 Support:  You can now deploy a Lotus Sametime server on Lotus Domino 8
2.        VMWare support:  You can now run a Lotus Sametime server in a VMWare environment
3.        Additional APIs for IBM Business Partners:  Additional Lotus Sametime APIs expand the possibilities and opportunities for IBM Business Partners, such as integrating Bluetooth headsets, providing more functions for chat logging, displaying telephony status for a person, and more.  Also, if Lotus Sametime has been integrated with third-party telephony capabilities, you can specify a preferred audio device instead of choosing between telephony or VoIP, and you can type a phone number in the quick find contact search to start an external call.

Lotus Sametime Gateway enhancements:

1.        Additional Federation Capabilities:  Lotus Sametime Standard 8 supports federation with Jabber-based and XMPP-based IM communities. TLS support is available when connecting to XMPP communities (if the particular XMPP server in question supports it), and XMPP proxy server can be added to the cluster configuration.
2.        Easier installation:  Automatic-enabled administrative security; proxy server setup is now available; simplified and wizard-based LDAP configuration is available
3.        Serviceability: Community connection status available from the admin UI; you can specify server reconnect interval or frequencies via custom properties; new, consistent logging across components using the same log levels; improved logging (host name of the Sametime servers logged, for example); PMI request/response time statistics added

Lotus Sametime Entry
is a new solution that provides the core capabilities of Sametime, at what should be a very compelling price point.  Think of this as delivering all the IM capabilities entitled to Lotus Notes users, only for people that don't have Lotus Notes.  So if you're using public IM today inside your company and are looking for a way to move to a secure, enterprise IM solution, this is a perfect way to get started.  You get capabilities like one-to-one and multi-way IM, chat history, emoticons, spell check, business card contact display, contact search, and integration into Microsoft Office and Outlook.

And, while we're on the topic of Lotus Sametime 8, a question that has come up recently is whether Lotus Notes 8.0.1 will synch up with the Lotus Sametime 8.0 client, and the answer is that, yes, it will.

You can expect to see a press release later today on these announcements, and we're starting to see news coverage already.  I'll update this post during the day as coverage comes in.  See the links below for coverage to date.

[Updated 11/28:  Added links to the Press Release and additional press coverage]