Microsoft Collab Tool Could Woo IBM Set

Microsoft today waged a new assault on long-time rival IBM, offering a suite of free tools to help businesses move data from their Lotus Notes/Domino software to Microsoft’s SharePoint platform.

Microsoft’s move is designed to lure customers from Lotus to its SharePoint suite, both of which are popular products in a multi-billion-dollar collaboration software market with high stakes.

Collaboration software includes productivity tools, such as e-mail, instant messaging, calendaring, and Web meetings, to help workers complete tasks together.

Gartner said real-time collaboration such as Web conferencing, which is just a piece of the collaboration market, is expected to top $1.1 billion by 2008.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant timed its latest offering a week before IBM planned to unveil the latest version of its e-mail client and collaboration software, code-named Project Hannover, at Lotusphere in Orlando.

The new tools to help Microsoft take share from IBM are Microsoft Application Analyzer 2006 for Lotus Domino, Microsoft Data Migrator 2006 for Lotus Domino, and new Windows SharePoint Services Application Templates.

Available in the first quarter this year, Application Analyzer will provide a framework for making recommendations to transition those applications to the Microsoft platform.

Microsoft will follow up the Analyzer in the second quarter with the Data Migrator.

As the name implies, this tool will help companies migrate data from Lotus Domino-based applications to Windows SharePoint Services application templates.

Microsoft today is also offering three new application templates developed for customers using similar Lotus Notes/Domino templates: Discussion Database, Team Work Site and Document Library.

Kurt DelBene, corporate vice president of the Office Server Group at Microsoft, said in a statement that the move is part of Microsoft’s annual $700 million investment in making sure its Office software is in great shape to serve customers and beat out the competition.

“This announcement is a big step in our overall strategy toward helping these customers make the move so they can begin to take advantage of our platform’s benefits,” DelBene said.

Meanwhile, IBM next week is expected to unveil new tools aimed at helping people share information across its various applications. Project Hannover will include better e-mail and calendaring functions, activity-centric collaboration, and composite applications.

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