IBM/Lotus on Monday revealed aggressive plans to create some chinks in Microsoft's desktop monoculture.

Scheduled for release this autumn, Lotus 7.0.2 will support Mac OS X, the company promised. It will also integrate IBM's Sametime instant messaging client. Also new will be support for Domino Web Access clients on Firefox browsers. The release also will feature integration with mobile technology from partners such as Intellisync, Nokia, Good Technology and Research in Motion, as well as, enhance SAP integration with connectors to specific Notes features.

Message to Microsoft

Lotus said it would ship Sametime 7.5, the long awaited upgrade to the platform, in autumn. This will support both Mac OS X and Linux and feature a new plug-in architecture for extending the client with features such as soft phones and Google Maps. It also has a new web-conferencing interface and social networking tools such as instant polling.

As part of the Sametime announcement, Lotus unveiled integration with instant messaging services from AOL, Yahoo and Google. Lotus plans to ship a gateway called the Real Time Collaboration Gateway around the time Sametime 7.5 is generally available.

Rival Microsoft announced a similar fee-based integration last year, but Lotus will offer its integration for free.

New Lotus general manager Mike Rhodin opened the annual Lotusphere conference by telling nearly 6,000 attendees that the future is already within sight. And he laid to rest, again, questions that the future of the Notes/Domino platform included a makeover or worse.

"For the record, there is no architectural shift involved [for Notes/Domino], it is pure growth with no regression," said Rhodin. "There will be continued support for all Notes applications."

Redmond rules no longer apply

Rhodin and IBM/Lotus executives also took a more aggressive stand in an on-going competition with Microsoft, often calling out the vendor during the general session keynote for its perceived shortcomings in product and delivery schedules.

"We have been the leader for 15 years, and I have no intention of backing down," Rhodin said later at a press conference.

Rhodin opened up the general session by pointing out that Lotus must be on to something because its competitors have been talking about Lotus at their conferences. As he spoke, the stage-wide screen behind him began to fill with pictures of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who last year said Lotus customers were just waiting for Microsoft to move them off Notes.

In addition, IBM/Lotus announced that its WorkPlace Collaboration Services 2.6 and WorkPlace Managed Client 2.6 are now shipping. The managed client includes support for Linux and the Open Document Format. The company also plans to ship before the end of June WorkPlace Forms 2.6, which will support the XForms standard.