Lotus Opens Shimmer to Beta-Testing

Lotus Development Monday launched its upcoming Web-access messaging client, code-named Shimmer, for public beta testing. The new product will allow users at small and medium-size organizations to gain access to many of Notes' features using a thin client.

The new product is part of the iNotes line, which is part of the Cambridge, Mass.-based company's push to make its labor-intensive and expensive Domino server and Notes client available to smaller companies that can't afford the information technology staff necessary to install and maintain Notes software on every desktop. Still used through a Domino server, the software was designed to make it easier for application service providers and smaller companies to provide the service to multiple users without having to install the client on each machine.

Shimmer brings a lot of Notes features to a browser interface, including the ability to work off-line and spell-check in Web-based e-mail. It doesn't have all the granular security features of Notes, nor does it support secure multiple-purpose Internet mail extensions.

However, Shimmer will be easier to install than Notes, since the thin-client model only requires the user to have a browser, and it will be easier to maintain, according to Lotus. "The costs are going to be tremendously lower," said a Lotus spokeswoman. The software is scheduled to ship in the first quarter of next year.

The reduced reliance on Java speeds up download time, and users still have access to the calendar, mail and other personal information manager information available in Notes. Users need only to log on to a Web address.

Lotus' main competitor in the messaging and collaboration market, Microsoft Corp., released its Web-enabled version of Exchange two weeks ago. The Exchange Web-based mail client won't have the same off-line capabilities as Shimmer, and it is part of a larger migration package.

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