by Al Sacco

BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) 4.1 SP5 Hits the Web: What’s in It for You

Apr 18, 20083 mins
Data Center

Research In Motion (RIM) has released the latest version of its BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) software, version 4.1 service pack 5 (SP5), and it includes some new features for smartphone users and IT staffers—but many won’t be available until an upgraded handheld operating system becomes available. (OS 4.5 is expected within the coming months, perhaps at RIM’s Wireless Enterprise Symposium event in May, and unofficial versions have already been leaked.)

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BES 4.1 SP5, released yesterday, can be downloaded from RIM’s website, and it’s available for users of Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino mail servers. Novell GroupWise and MDS users are out of luck, however. The upgrade is free if you’re a BlackBerry Technical Support Services subscriber, but it’ll cost you $1000 if not.

Here are the key new features available to BlackBerry users:

Free-Busy Calendar Lookup

This function lets BlackBerry users view coworkers’ calendar availability via smartphone, and can even find the next times they’re free, helping to schedule last-minute meetings on the fly. However, this feature will not be available until BlackBerry operating system 4.5 is released.

Download and Edit E-Mail Attachments in Native File Formats

BlackBerry business users have long complained that their devices don’t allow for document and attachment editing—you can view documents, but you can’t make changes. The new version of BES finally addresses the issue. But, again, users will have to wait until the BlackBerry handheld OS 4.5 is released.

Enhanced Instant Messaging and Presence Features

New IM improvements include better address book integration, click-to-call contacts, the ability to convert IM sessions to phone calls and advanced emoticon support. However…you guessed it, these features are only available to users with BlackBerry OS 4.5 or higher.

BlackBerry Client for IBM Lotus Connections

Back in January, at IBM’s Lotusphere event, RIM announced that BlackBerry users would soon be able to employ IBM’s Lotus Connections software, and it’s now official. The Lotus Connections social software helps coworkers connect for networking and better remote communication and collaboration.

BlackBerry Enterprise Server 4.1 SP5

And here are a couple of enhancements that BES admins can look forward to:

New BlackBerry Web Desktop Manager Features

The BlackBerry Web Desktop Manager helps decrease the number of necessary BlackBerry apps on user workstations, to streamline device management and free up space. It also lets BlackBerry users install related programs and manage their devices via any browser-enabled computer, according to RIM.

New BlackBerry Monitoring Service

Many organizations already use some form of BlackBerry device management service or product, and now RIM’s offering its own service. The BlackBerry Monitoring Service is meant to help organizations reduce BlackBerry downtime and improve the overall performance of their BES infrastructure. It includes monitoring, alerting, troubleshooting and reporting capabilities to help proactively identify and resolve issues before users even have time to report them.

Webcasts detailing what’s new in BES 4.1 SP5 for both Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino users are also available.