Comdex: Lotus CEO says standards are best

Lotus Chief Executive Jeff Papows called on the computer industry to stop the infighting and adhere to standards.
Written by Deborah Gage, Contributor

"The industry has a horrible track record when it comes to standards," said Papows in his keynote speech at Comdex/Fall here on Monday. "Many of our standards so far are on-the-wire standards catalysed by the government, not us. All too often we jam users in the middle of our food fights. The key standard of Java is still very much in play, and I urge you to vote with your chequebooks."

At the same time, Papows said, also raised the spectre of government intervention. While President Clinton is advanced in his use of e-mail and his thinking on Internet taxation, Papows called government legislation on privacy and encryption "brain-dead" because Lotus Notes on an IBM Thinkpad is restricted like a plastic explosive.

Papows said the computer industry must also do a much better job of making products easier to use, especially as they move into homes. He said complexity is restraining adoption in the consumer and education markets. That in turn affects government, which may be reluctant to put services online for fear of disadvantaging the technology "have-nots".

Papows demonstrated parts of Lotus Notes 5, the company's flagship groupware product that is due to ship the end of this year, and assured the audience that "knowledge management" is not a buzz-word. He showed standards-based software that tells recipients of a Notes document to be online when the document is being composed. Recipients could then choose to go to real-time chat. By the end of 1999, Notes will also support speech recognition.

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