Lotus Delays Notes 5 release until late March

Apparently having bitten off a bit more than they can chew, Lotus Development officials announced on Wednesday that they are delaying delivery of the critical Notes Release 5 groupware product from mid-February to the end of March.

The added four- to five-week delay will be spent killing off minor bugs in both the client and server versions of the long-awaited product, as well as addressing and rectifying a variety of usability issues, officials said.

"We are in the final stage of the development cycle, but that is just taking a little longer than we anticipated," said Paul Davis, a Lotus spokesman. "There aren't any significant problems in any one area, just tweaks across the board. We want to make sure that everything we promised in the client user interface, for example, works the way we promised it would.'' Just last month at its annual Lotusphere conference, Lotus Chief Executive Officer Jeff Papows during his keynote speech promised delivery of the product in two to three weeks' time.

"Jeff has made the decision that he would rather deliver it when it is everything we want it to be, and it is not quite there yet," Davis said.

What has contributed to the delay, in part, is the enormous amount of technical feedback the company has received from unofficial beta users over the Web, during the last beta.

"We didn't do as much Web beta testing with [Notes] R4, and so we have been incorporating input from nearly 200,000 downloads of beta users," Davis said. "We are not putting that input on the same level as the designated beta testers, but we are trying to look at consistent feedback we are getting from the mass market of users."

Lotus had hoped to be at "virtual zero" this week, the company's term for satisfactorily "addressing" all usability issues. Company officials will not reach that status until sometime next week, Davis said. Once there, it will take three to four weeks before they feel comfortable in shipping the golden masters to manufacturing.

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