LOTUSPHERE - Lotus to integrate MS Outlook into future products

  • Nancy Weil (Computerworld)
  • 18 January, 2000 12:01

The annual Lotusphere trade show kicked off here yesterday with the news that Lotus Development will incorporate rival Microsoft's Outlook software into future product lines.

Lotus president and chief executive officer Jeffrey Papows, who has resigned his post effective February 1, made the announcement during his keynote speech yesterday, and said that Lotus also will integrate technologies from other companies in its software. He offered no details about the agreement with Microsoft, except to say that it was "hard work" to arrive at the deal, which is "based on mutual respect," nor did he say what other companies might be part of similar arrangements.

Papows and other Lotus officials who spoke after him also did not provide details about a new pricing structure that they said will be easier for users to figure out, and they likewise did not elaborate regarding new products, including a new Notes client for mobile users.

Papows did insist that Lotus has not given up its stake in the messaging market, despite the deal with Microsoft.

"I want to be clear -- we have not conceded the market here," he said. "Not one inch."

Lotus announced several years ago that it would offer products that integrate software and technologies from other companies, including rivals, so that customers have more choices, Papows and other executives said during the opening session. Whenever Lotus has followed through on that the result has been more demand for Notes, according to Mike Zisman, Lotus executive vice president for strategy, who spoke after Papows.

Other news tidbits that were touched on during the morning general session include:

-- Notes has reached a global installed base of 56 million users.

-- I-Notes, a new Notes brand that will integrate browser and Microsoft Outlook capabilities, will offer Domino offline services allowing users to replicate Notes data from PCs not operating Notes. Again, Zisman insisted that Lotus isn't backing off its Notes client, but is simply offering more options to users.

-- Notes enhancements include improved calendar printing, a seemingly trivial advance that users at the show greeted with applause because the inability to print a calendar from Notes has been, "a pain for many of you," Zisman said, adding, "and you'll see that we finally got it right." Future Notes versions also will include tighter integration with Lotus' SameTime messaging software.

-- The Lotus knowledge management suite, code-named "Raven" and due out in the middle of this year, will include speech technology developed by Lotus that works with IBM's Via Voice software. IBM owns Lotus.

In a demonstration of the voice technology at the opening session it proved a bit buggy with a Lotus employee having to repeatedly tell the computer to "wake up" so that it would begin taking commands. Once running, though, the technology categorised e-mail and scheduled a meeting using voice commands.

It also allowed employees working in the US and Spain to send instant messages in their native languages. The software translated the messages, offering the translations in text on the computer screen and verbally.

Raven was introduced at the Lotusphere show in Berlin last year. The basic concept is to tie together data, including helping to track down which people in an organisation have particular expertise. The software also is aimed at allowing teams to more easily collaborate and share information. That feature can be extended to partners and others.

Lotusphere continues through Thursday.