"IBM is certainly pushing this idea of interoperability and [making] real-time collaboration a platform component that can be consumed by other applications," Brown said.
Regarding IBM's plans, Sametime's Web conferencing would become less a place for users to meet online and more of an integrated part of the work they're involved in, Brown said.
So, an e-mail sent to a group could be seamlessly escalated into a Web conference including every recipient, Brown said. Or a Web conference could be embedded into a product design application so the team could share designs and models in an ad-hoc way, Brown said.
Sametime has more than 16 million users and is quite a mature product, but Microsoft hopes to steal some of its thunder with an update to its own real-time collaboration product. The company plans to ship Office Communications Server 2007 -- a revamped and rebranded version of its Live Communications Server product -- as a competitor to Sametime in the second quarter of next year.