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Microsoft's After The Lotus Notes Crowd

Microsoft  is trying to crash IBM's  Lotusphere party.

The Redmond, Wash., company today introduced more free software tools to make it easier for customers of IBM's Lotus collaboration software to move to and work with Microsoft's competing SharePoint Services 3.0 suite.

Microsoft Transporter Suite for Lotus Notes, role-based templates for SharePoint My Sites and Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 application templates, come as IBM kicks off Lotusphere 2007 in Orlando, Fla.

The software tools are Microsoft's latest shot across Big Blue's bows in what has become a spirited, protracted competition for signing up the most corporate users to use their collaboration services, which include e-mail, instant messaging, calendaring and Web conferencing.

Transporter Suite for Lotus Notes is a software tool that helps customers move data from their messaging and directory services to Windows SharePoint Services 3.0.

Templates for SharePoint My Sites help customers create customized portals where employees can go to find the information and tools they need to do their jobs.

Templates include roles for sales account managers, financial analysts, staffing specialists, administrative assistants, customer services representatives, IT engineers and marketing managers.

Microsoft has also created 40 new templates for Windows SharePoint Services 3.0 to make it easier for IT staffers create customized applications for workgroup processes.

These templates include scenarios for sales and marketing jobs, HR and finance processes, business and IT operations, project management, education, health care, retail and financial organizations.

Companies can use the Microsoft Transporter Suite to migrate data from Notes applications to these application templates.

Microsoft said in a statement that customers will be able to download these tools and templates for free here.

For years, IBM's Lotus-Domino portfolio has been the top collaboration suite for triggering communications between corporate employees.

But Microsoft has been making dents in IBM's dominance with software such as SharePoint Services 3.0 and Office Live Communications Server, along with aggressive Lotus-to-SharePoint migration programs.

This time last year, Microsoft preempted Lotusphere 2006 with a suite of free tools to help businesses move data from Lotus Notes and Domino systems to the SharePoint platform.

IBM fought back last March, offering partners up to $20,000 to help customers move from Exchange to Linux-based versions of Lotus Notes and Domino.

The Lotus-Domino portfolio is still going strong: Revenue from Lotus-Domino products rose by 30 percent in the fourth quarter of 2006, according to Big Blue's earnings report from last week. The Lotus-versus-SharePoint competition has revolved around e-mail, instant messaging and Web conferencing technologies.

But IBM's Lotus unit and Microsoft's SharePoint group have extended their collaboration brawl to a new battleground that includes wikis, RSS feeds, blogs, social-networking tools, unified messaging and VoIP software.

To that end, social-networking software is coming into play at IBM Lotusphere 2007.

IBM is letting customers attend the conference virtually on Second Life, a 3-D virtual-reality world.

The company also unveiled today its IBM Lotus Connections social software platform; IBM Lotus Quickr, a new Web 2.0 collaborative content platform; and IBM Lotus Sametime 7.5.1, which boasts increased interoperability with Microsoft software.