IBM is revamping its Sametime enterprise IM system so it can venture better armed into Microsoft enemy territory, IBM plans to announce Monday.IBM will build links between Sametime and Microsoft\u2019s Outlook, Office and SharePoint applications and give users access to Sametime functionality from within those Microsoft products, an IBM executive said.The Microsoft links will be delivered early next year in Sametime\u2019s new version 7.5, said Ken Bisconti, IBM\u2019s vice president of workplace, portal and collaboration products. Sametime 7.5 is being beta tested and is slated to ship in this year\u2019s third quarter.IBM estimates that about 75 percent of Sametime installations are used in conjunction with the company\u2019s Notes\/Domino messaging and collaboration platform, and the remaining 25 percent in hybrid setups, primarily with Microsoft Outlook and Exchange, he said. IBM expects that the new Outlook, SharePoint and Office hooks will increase Sametime\u2019s adoption among Microsoft users, he said. "We\u2019re actively bringing Sametime into the Microsoft Office space," Bisconti said.Instant messaging has taken a firm hold in the enterprise and become for many companies a key communication tool, particularly as IM services and software have grown beyond the simple provision of text messaging. Today, enterprise IM systems are becoming communication hubs, integrated with telephony, e-mail, business applications and Web conferencing. IBM\u2019s Sametime and its main rival, Microsoft\u2019s Live Communications Server (LCS), compete ferociously for enterprise users. Microsoft has in the past also launched programs designed to attract IBM users to LCS.With the new Microsoft ties, users will be able to perform Sametime operations, such as sending instant messages, initiating calls, sharing applications and launching Web conferences, from within Microsoft Office, versions XP and above, Bisconti said. Meanwhile, Sametime 7.5 features will also be accessible from the inboxes of Microsoft Outlook, versions 2000 and above, including viewing presence information.Beyond its new Microsoft ties, Sametime 7.5 will also pack direct links to mobile devices from Research In Motion and Nokia, as well as devices based on the Windows Mobile platform, he said. This mobile support is slated to be ready in the fourth quarter.Sametime 7.5 is also being designed with open application programming interfaces (APIs) and built on the open source Eclipse development framework. This means external developers can create plug-ins and applications for Sametime 7.5, Bisconti said. Meanwhile, Sametime 7.5 also features improved Web conferencing capabilities in areas like application sharing.As IBM previously announced this year, Sametime 7.5 will be linked with the public IM networks from AOL, Yahoo and Google."The two most interesting aspects of this announcement are the frontal assault on Microsoft and IBM\u2019s emphasis on openness and interoperability for Sametime," said Matt Brown, a Forrester Research analyst.The Office, SharePoint and Outlook ties are aimed squarely against Microsoft\u2019s message that IT managers are better served by using LCS within a homogeneous Microsoft platform, Brown said. IBM is taking a different tack by preaching in favor of what it considers a more open Sametime platform, Brown said. "That\u2019s where the line is being drawn between them," he said. \u2014 Juan Carlos Perez, IDG News Service (Miami Bureau)Related Link:\n\nIBM to Unveil DB2 9 \u2019Viper\u2019 Database on July 28Check out our CIO News Alerts and Tech Informer pages for more updated news coverage.