Lotus Development is ceasing development of Notes/Domino groupware for Novell's NetWare operating system.
Lotus customers are not investing in NetWare for email or collaborative software and the result has been a drop in the percentage of Domino customers using NetWare, so the company decided to halt development for that platform, according to Lotus spokesman Paul Davis.
Instead, customers increasingly are moving to the Windows NT and Unix operating environments, Davis said. Lotus will not disclose the breakdown for the percentage of users on NT as compared to NetWare.
Lotus and Novell continue to discuss issues related to NetWare, "and it's always possible the decision could be revisited sometime in the future," Davis said.
In the meantime, Lotus will continue to support NetWare while the 4.6x version is current, which will be at least four more years, he said. "During that period, we'll have time to work on a number of tools to facilitate any migration customers want to make (to other platforms)," he said of those using Notes on NetWare now.
Whatever support Lotus offers, the decision to halt development of Notes/Domino for NetWare does not bode well for the Novell operating system, said analyst Dan Kusnetzky of International Data, a market research firm based in Framingham, Massachusetts.
"NetWare shipped almost a million units (in 1997) and more than Unix," Kusnetzky said. "Is that dead? No."
Microsoft's marketing strategy has been to convince users that everyone else is using its NT platform, although that's "absolutely ridiculous" and not borne out by statistics on operating environment shipments, Kusnetzky said.
While NT had 36% of the market in 1997 -- up 73%from the previous year -- NetWare had 26.4% of all operating environment shipments, while Unix came in at 20.7 percent, Kusnetzky said.
"It's kind of surprising that Lotus would walk away from a quarter of the market," he said.
On the other hand, the decision is understandable given how the shipment growth figures look. Novell has had fewer shipments, so its figures show only slight growth in that regard, but the shipments have been larger than in the past, he said.
The decision by Lotus, which is a subsidiary of IBM , feeds into the Microsoft marketing push and the clamor that has been created for NT.
"What IBM's Lotus division is doing is feeding the perception" that NetWare is dead, Kusnetzky said. "If enough people believe it, it will become true."
Lotus, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, can be reached at at http://www.lotus.com/.
(James Niccolai in San Francisco contributed to this report.)