US Report: Lotus set to release Notes 5.0 beta 2

Lotus Development Corp. is gearing up to start round 2 of testing next week as its rolls out Notes 5.0 Beta 2 to the public.

Company officials in the US said Wednesday that Beta 2--which will be available for download from Lotus' Web site--will feature several new capabilities as well as improvements based on responses from the first beta.

The first public beta of Notes 5.0 was released in September in conjunction with versions 5.0 of the Domino Web application server and the Domino Designer development tool.

Notes 5.0 Beta 2 includes:

  • The Headlines page, a customisable front end to Notes that enables users to determine how many frames and what type of content (such as Web pages and calendar or mail information) they want to view in one screen.

  • The Task Center, an "accumulation tool" for new Notes users that includes a set of buttons for accessing mail, contacts, and the Headlines page or replicating databases.

  • Data parsing technology from Actioneer Inc., which enables Notes users to streamline the capture of action items into, say, the Notes calendar.

  • Updated bookmarks and navigation design.

  • Improved Internet client setup based on a wizard approach.

"There is a big difference between the look and feel of the product in Beta 1 and Beta 2," said Martha Tacy, senior manager of Notes product marketing.

She added that the updated user interface is designed to help reach an audience beyond just the traditional Notes and Domino users, since Notes 5.0 can also be used as an Internet client and does not require the Domino server.

The IBM subsidiary has also added support for the Macintosh platform with Beta 2. The first beta ran on Windows 95, Windows 98 and Windows NT. Lotus may issue a third beta before it releases Version 5.0 of Notes, Domino and Domino Designer, although all three are still on target for delivery by year's end, officials said.

Notes 5.0 Beta 2 arrives as the battle for messaging seats intensifies, with the top spot switching hands yet again from Microsoft to Lotus, with the latter selling 3.4 million new seats in the third quarter. According to Eric Arnum, publisher and editor of the Washington-based Electronic Mail & Messaging Systems, Microsoft sold 3.2 million new seats of Exchange in the quarter. Exchange outsold Notes in the two previous quarters.

According to Arnum, that brings the tally to 28.5 million seats for Notes and 19.8 million seats for Exchange. Although the comparison of Notes to Exchange generates some discord, Arnum said the central reason either platform is purchased is for mail and messaging. "Messaging is the killer application," Arnum said. "Yes, Notes does have more than e-mail but so does Exchange. You don't buy either for the chat or calendar capabilities; you buy it because you need to have mail."

According to the EMMS, Novell Inc.'s GroupWise sold 1 million seats in the quarter and remains No. 3 in the messaging battle.

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