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BlackBerry Updates Sync With Microsoft, IBM Software

RIM's new software for Enterprise Server also gives administrators better monitoring, alerting, troubleshooting, and reporting capabilities.

Research In Motion on Tuesday rolled out several new updates to its BlackBerry platform, including improved messaging, enhanced security, and simplified device management.

The BlackBerry Enterprise Solution consists of tools that allow business professionals to access communications and information wirelessly, including messaging and collaboration (e-mail, instant-messaging, calendars, address books, and tasks), enterprise data, and personal productivity tools. A key element of the RIM's enterprise platform is the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which enables device management and "push" wireless e-mail on BlackBerrys.

The new updates to the BlackBerry Enterprise Server and BlackBerry device software are meant to improve messaging and productivity tools on BlackBerry smartphones. For example, one of the updates is the ability to download and edit Microsoft Office Word, PowerPoint, and Excel documents on the smartphones.

As part of its messaging update, RIM introduced remote e-mail search that lets users retrieve e-mails from servers even if they're no longer stored on BlackBerrys. BlackBerry users also can now check the availability of their colleagues before requesting a meeting, and users running IBM Lotus Sametime and Microsoft Live Communications Server now get improved address book integration, according to RIM.

One other new feature is HTML and rich text e-mail rendering, which means e-mail messages can now be viewed on BlackBerrys in HTML and their original formatting, whether they were sent with embedded images, hyperlinks, tables, or bullet points.

Microsoft began offering a similar capability to view e-mails in their original HTML formatting with the release of its Windows Mobile 6 operating system last year.

RIM said it also added a new software component of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server that will provide administrators with better monitoring, alerting, troubleshooting, and reporting capabilities. The BlackBerry Monitoring Service will be included in the next release of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, the company said.

Additionally, BlackBerry users can download RIM's free software called BlackBerry Web Desktop Manager, which allows software to be installed on BlackBerry smartphones from any desktop Web browser.

With the new features also comes enhanced security, such as the ability to view attachments within encrypted PGP and S/MIME messages, administrator control over GPS functionality on BlackBerrys, and administrator control of Bluetooth profiles.

These updates and others are being previewed by RIM at the IBM Lotusphere conference in Orlando this week. They will become available in software releases during the first half of this year.

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