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Lotus halts all work on eSuite

Lotus Development says it is halting all marketing and development efforts behind its stripped-down Java-based desktop applications package called eSuite.

Lotus Development today said it is halting all marketing and development efforts behind its stripped-down Java-based desktop applications package called eSuite.

The anticipated move comes after the product failed to meet expected sales forecasts, Paul Labelle, a Lotus spokesman, said.

About 150 software developers and marketers at the IBM subsidiary who work on the eSuite package will be redeployed to products the company considers core to its business, like groupware, learning software, and knowledge management applications. The company does not expect layoffs as a result of the decision.

IBM bought software maker Lotus Development, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for $3.5 billion in 1995.

Introduced in 1997 with much fanfare, the eSuite programs are geared for network computers--desktop devices designed as an alternative to personal computers running Microsoft Windows software. The machines, and software that runs on them, haven't sold as well as their supporters hoped.

eSuite Workplace is a desktop package of applets including email, a word processor, spreadsheet, calendar, chart presentation graphics, and an address book, which can run on any device that supports Java, including NCs and PCs.

eSuite DevPack is a set of Java Web applets and utilities that helps Domino developers build interactive Web applications for intranets and extranets.

The company said it will continue to support eSuite customers until 2001. Development for WorkPlace 2.5 is finishing up for the product release next month.

Analysts said eSuite had disappeared from the radar screen and didn't seem to fit in the marketplace anywhere except in particular IBM installations.

Microsoft's quick reaction to the network-computer threat helped derail sales of the devices, analysts said. The world's biggest software company released Windows Terminal Server, which displays Windows applications on network computer-like devices.

Lotus plans to use most of the technology in eSuite in other product lines, Labelle said.