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IBM’s Lotus Software division is taking a bigger bite of Apple’s Mac OS X.

The Armonk, N.Y. company on Dec. 28 formally rolled out the latest version of its Lotus messaging software package, dubbed Notes 7.0.2, which will include e-mail, calendar management tools and instant messaging that is specifically designed for Mac OS X users.

This latest version of Lotus for the Mac OS X had been available in a limited beta version. Big Blue had demonstrated some of its features earlier this year.

This version of Lotus Notes will work with the latest versions of the Mac operating system, which goes by the name Tiger, and will also be the first version that is compatible with both Intel-based and PowerPC-based Macintosh desktops and notebooks.

Although only a small minority of enterprise workers use the Mac operating system, Apple’s computers have begun to increase in popularity since the company began using Intel processors.

This updated release now gives Mac users the same messaging and communication capabilities that were offered when IBM upgraded Lotus for both Windows and Linux operating systems earlier in 2006, said Heidi Votaw, the senior product manager for IBM Lotus.

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The new version will also allow users of either the Mac or Windows operating system to communicate with each other across the two platforms, Votaw said.

The Lotus Notes 7.0.2 for the Mac OS X will offer a more enhanced user interface and e-mail production features that will enable Mac users to group e-mails through a conversation thread. This feature will allow users to view e-mails “at-a-glance” and give them the ability to automatically save work that is in progress.

Mac users will also have the ability to use instant messaging in real time across an enterprise’s network from within the Notes e-mail, calendar and contacts function. This version also offers full calendaring features, such as group scheduling and meeting delegation.

Another unique feature will allow Lotus users the ability to import Web-based calendars into Notes, Votaw said.

Finally, the Notes 7.0.2 version offers embedded RSS technology, which will allow users to publish data from any Lotus Notes application that uses an industry standard format, as well as a new blog template for users.

The price for the 7.0.2 version of Lotus Notes for the Mac starts at $101 per seat, according to IBM. The next major update of Notes and Domino will be demonstrated at the Lotusphere developer conference in Orlando, Fla. in January, Votaw said.

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