Lotus moves into Web era with Notes 5.0

Publicly, Lotus Development has spent much of the year battling Microsoft for bragging rights as the top e-mail vendor, as users have begun to consolidate on the two companies' products at the expense of other vendors' software and Lotus' own CC:Mail. But internally, Lotus has focused on a major rewrite of its Notes messaging system to bring it into the Web era while at the same time continuing its integration with parent company IBM.

Publicly, Lotus Development has spent much of the year battling Microsoft for bragging rights as the top e-mail vendor, as users have begun to consolidate on the two companies’ products at the expense of other vendors’ software and Lotus’ own CC:Mail.

But internally, Lotus has focused on a major rewrite of its Notes messaging system to bring it into the Web era while at the same time continuing its integration with parent company IBM.

Computerworld senior writer Roberta Fusaro spoke last month with IBM Vice President Mike Zisman on Lotus’ efforts.

On the impending release of Notes 5.0:

Version 5.0 is the most important release of Notes since Version 1.0 because it’s the first version of Notes that was really conceived of and designed in the Web era. ... Notes 5.0 brings together all the benefits we have in messaging and collaboration, but in the context of a Web user model.

It’s a substantial change in user interface, but if you want, you can click a button and go back to [the old Notes interface]. ... It looks like a browser, has native HTML [the Web programming language] and, for many users, it will become their native browser.

On the CC:Mail market:

We made a conscious decision that we weren’t going to force CC:Mail users to migrate, because there was a very high level of angst on the part of CC:Mail customers for years leading up to the notion that “Lotus is trying to get us to move to Notes when we just want mail.”

But at some point, that file-share technology won’t scale anymore. We continue to improve CC:Mail, but at the same time we’ve built migration tools.

In the past six to 12 months, we’ve said, “OK, it’s time.” We’ve taken CC:Mail a long way, but we think with the tremendous offerings in Lotus Notes and Domino, the reasons to migrate are compelling, and the tools are in place.

On restructuring at Lotus:

We’re having some employee [layoffs] because we’re integrating with IBM in some basic infrastructure areas. And that’s because Lotus is going to find all the efficiencies we can, integrate more effectively with IBM and reduce operating expenses, and shift that expense to product development, sales, marketing and support.

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