The Linux release represents the first step by IBM to extend the cross-platform functionality of its popular IM system. The cross-platform push is part of an effort by the company to differentiate the enterprise IM solution from Microsoft's Live Communication Server (LCS), which is decidedly Windows-centric. Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server will be the Linux versions supported.
At the client, IBM roll out a Macintosh client in early 2007. The company already announced a Linux client to be released with version 7.5, which is due to ship by the end of next month. The new release will add 150 features to Sametime. Aside from a Linux desktop, Adam Gartenberg, the program manager in charge of Sametime, expects enterprises will also like the ability to place single and multiway VoIP calls from the Sametime client. The VoIP capability is based on the popular GIPS codec that's driven the remarkable voice quality behind Skype and Gizmo Project.
The new release will also include a number of enterprise features required by end users. Among them: integrated spellchecking, timestamps and the ability to locally store a chat history. Selective "Do Not Disturb" will allow Sametime users to indicate to some users that they should not be distributed while showing availability to other users. Location awareness will allow Sametime to indicate a user's physical location in an address card associated with his or her Sametime identity. A user initially provides the location information, which Sametime associates with the IP address of the user's computer. Subsequently, Sametime retrieves that information whenever a user logs in from that location. Users have the option to hide their location information as necessary.
According to Gartenberg, IBM will also make its SIMPLE gateway available at the end of September. The gateway will allow enterprises to deploy SIP IM clients, although functionality will be limited in the initial release. For example, Sametime and SIP users will be able to exchange text messages, but file transfer and other advanced features will not be supported.