Lotus is touting its Domino 4.5 server as an all-embracing computing environment for Notes users with support for multiple clients and extensive Internet browsing and authoring capabilities.
On a whistle-stop demonstration tour last week, Bill Corrigan, Lotus Internet applications product manager, said the IBM Lotus buy has revitalised Notes/Domino, providing increased bundling opportunities and boosting its share of groupware sales from about 8% to 28%.
Corrigan says the Lotus strategy centres on moving it to become a standards- and Net-based product, offering clustering, partitioning and billing functionality.
He says Domino now supports any HTML browser as a client and any POP3 client can retrieve mail but needs a licence to do so.
Lotus has also announced a new plug-in, Lotus Weblicator, to be released in the first quarter next year, which will provide replication ability to browsers and Web information management.
On the Web side, Domino offers applications designed to make Notes an appealing platform for ISPs. Lotus is providing applications targeted at service providers, called Domino SPA (service provider applications), which it believes will create a new market for Domino in Web hosting. The SPAs support common business functions such as online commerce and billing.
Domino also enables distributed and collaborative Web authoring and creation through its Domino.Apps.
Corrigan concedes Notes has often been seen as a complex application and that the Lotus strategy is also addressing these ease-of-use issues. He cites walk-through database access implementation as an early example of this and promises a much better GUI interface in Notes 5.
He says the browser inside Notes 4.5 does not support frames, due to the table format within Notes, and also does not support some HTML tags. The browser, however, does support plug-ins, Java and ActiveX and Corrigan demonstrated Java applets and plug-ins running within Notes documents.
IDG information systems manager and long-time Notes user Mark Evans, was impressed by the demonstration. "I am happy to see that Lotus is moving forward in terms of integrating Web technology with Notes," says Evans.
"Bill Corrigan was also quite positive about plans for making Notes an easy-to-use tool--more graphical and drag-and-drop in style. The application design interface is an area that could really do with this sort of facelift, as could the document design interface."
Lotus has also announced an agreement with Microsoft to ship Internet Explorer 3.0 with the Notes client.