Microsoft Corp. Tuesday said it plans to offer a variety of analytical and data transfer tools, aimed at luring customers of IBM's rival Lotus Notes e-mail software to its own system that allows business to collaborate on projects via the Web.
Both Microsoft and IBM are vying for supremacy in the $2.8 billion corporate messaging market which includes collaboration tools such as e-mail, Web publishing, electronic calendars and project management systems.
Each company wants to play a leading role in defining how Web services will work together in the future.
Analysts agree that Microsoft has captured the momentum in the more than decade-old battle between Exchanges and Lotus Notes to win the lion's share of the corporate e-mail market.
But IBM is seeking to redefine the competition by investing in a new set of Web-based collaboration tools known as IBM Workplace that is attempting to recapture momentum among corporate users switching to Microsoft.
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To encourage customers to switch from their existing Lotus applications to Microsoft's platform, Microsoft said it would offer a tool to allow potential customers to identify and organize its most-used shared software.
In addition to 30 existing application templates, Microsoft also plans to offer three mew ones in its Windows SharePoint Services that are similar to popular applications in Lotus.
Gartner analyst Matt Cain said Microsoft has been gaining market share over the last few years by a few percentage points every year and he expects that trend to continue, given Microsoft's dominant position on the PC desktop.
"Microsoft could have been a lot more aggressive years ago. It's taken quite some time for the company as a whole to recognize it has a significant opportunity here," said Cain.
A July report by Radicati Group estimated that Microsoft Exchange, the server software behind Microsoft Outlook, was on track to have 126 million users in 2005 compared with IBM's Domino, the server software underlying Notes, which was expected to have 88 million customers.
In market share terms, Microsoft had 32 percent of the 389 million users of e-mail and collaboration software, while IBM had around 24 percent, Radicati estimated.
IBM Domino/Notes users will sink to 68 million, or 13 percent of the market, while IBM's new Workplace software will grow to 35 million users, or 6.5 percent of the market, meaning IBM's total share will amount to around 20 percent of the global market.