A new version of IBM's Lotus Notes messaging client, adding instant messaging and other new tools, will be available worldwide at the end of September with licences starting at about US$90 per user, said IBM spokesman Michael Kiess.

The new Lotus Notes 6.5 and Domino Web Access 6.5 clients will allow users to see whether colleagues are available online and to exchange messages direct from their inboxes or other collaborative applications, such as the calendar, Kiess said.

By integrating instant messaging with e-mail into Lotus Notes 6.5, IBM is pursuing a course similar to that targeted by competitors, such as Microsoft.

The newly integrated Lotus Notes Instant Messaging function is based on IBM's Sametime software, according to Kiess.

Lotus Notes 6.5 customers in the US with maintenance agreements can receive a free 20-licence pack for IBM Lotus Instant Messaging, the spokesman said. However, this offer, would not be available to customers in the Europe, Middle East and African (EMEA) region, he said.