The IBM subsidiary announced a new customer license subscription program for cc:Mail and IBM OfficeVision users that allows them to get Notes client licenses without any additional cost beyond their regular $12 maintenance renewal fee, Lotus said.
The new program is called the Lotus Passport Advantage Messaging Software Subscription. The program allows Lotus cc:Mail, Lotus Mail and Notes Mail who have current software subscription coverage to upgrade at no charge to the most recent release of Lotus Notes licensed for messaging and the Domino Mailbox Client Access License (CAL), Lotus said.
Lotus clients not currently on software subscription, or with OfficeVision licenses, can sign up for new licensing plan for $19 per seat. Also, Lotus customers with messaging seats for Lotus clients or with OfficeVision licenses may trade up to Domino Mail Server at the promotional price of $549, the company said.
"This means we are delivering on our commitment to converge all of our existing client customers to Notes," said Eric Faunce, Lotus's director of messaging marketing. "And it gives them a choice of when they want to move to Notes."
Analysts said the licensing change removes one more hurtle for Lotus and IBM customers on the upgrade path to Notes.
The licensing strategy "has been a stumbling block for customers. Now this takes some of the pain out of the upgrade," said Joyce Graf, a Gartner Group analyst. "It also is an effort by Lotus to keep cc:Mail users in the fold and away from competitors."
This is Lotus's latest upgrade plan announced in the last six months or so. In March, the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based software company announced a set of tools and services and gave cc:Mail users who pay for a maintenance plan the option to buy Notes and Domino server seats at a discounted price.
Today's announcement also supports earlier rumors that Lotus was planning to give cc:Mail users its upcoming Notes 5.0 client for free. However, Faunce denies that such a discussion ever took place.
All along the company has emphasized that they have no plans to abandon cc:Mail as a product. However, development of the popular messaging application will be limited to maintenance, or point releases. No major wholesale releases of the product are expected to roll out after Release 9, the company said earlier this year.
According to analysts, there are roughly 12 to 13 million cc:Mail users.
In the past six months, Lotus has been battling Microsoft for the huge cc:Mail customer base. The Redmond, Washington-based giant has turned up the heat with its groupware product duo, Exchange and Outlook.
One example of Microsoft's attempts to lure cc:Mail users from Lotus was its recent announcement to give the next version of its Outlook 98 messaging client free to Exchange customers for 90 days.
Never admitting to the battle for its cc:Mail user base, Lotus said today's announcement is a direct response to customer demand.
"Our cc:Mail client customers say they shouldn't have to pay an additional maintenance fee to get to Notes," so the company capitulated, Lotus said.