Lotus SmartSuite 97 looks to challenge MS Office

Lotus is looking to give Microsoft a run for its market share and to shake the software giant's grasp of the office suite market with its 32-bit Lotus SmartSuite 97.

Lotus is looking to give Microsoft a run for its market share and to shake the software giant's grasp of the office suite market with its 32-bit Lotus SmartSuite 97, due before the end of the year.

With new operating systems like Windows NT available, companies are considering an OS switch, and concurrently they are also taking the opportunity to re-evaluate office suites at the same time, says Darren Reid, Lotus' desktop products marketing manager for Asia/Pacific.

The OS change gives Lotus an opportunity to get its foot in the door and overcome what Reid calls the "lemming effect" that led many users to Microsoft Office. "There are going to be people wanting to make the switch," Reid says. To this end, Lotus is offering several document filters, as well as "switch kits" to provide end-users with online tips and training.

Lotus is also playing up the suite's cross-application and Internet integration, as well as customisation options for individuals and groups and collaborative computing. SmartSuite 97 is "building on the team computing features incorporated in SmartSuite 96," Reid says.

Worldwide market share for SmartSuite appears to be climbing: It was up to 27% in the second quarter this year from 19% in the first quarter, says Lotus officials citing US-based SPA Research.

In Asia, the officials say that -- including OEM bundling deals -- the office suite has a 15% market share, a number that they claim is increasing.

Lotus SmartSuite 97 for Windows 95 and Windows NT includes the following 32-bit applications: Word Pro, 1-2-3 spreadsheet, Approach database, Freelance Graphics for presentations, ScreenCam multimedia tool, Organizer personal time manager and SmartCenter suite command center.

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