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Lotus Notes to become true Netizen

Lotus Development today threw down the intranet gauntlet.

NEW YORK--Lotus Development today threw down the intranet gauntlet, outlining its set of new standards based servers and new Notes client capabilities that will stiffen competition for Microsoft and Netscape Communications in the growing intranet market.

While Web browsers and servers, Internet email and Usenet newsreaders have begun making serious inroads into corporations for group communication and collaboration, Lotus has essentially stuck to its proprietary groupware guns--Notes.

At PC Expo here today, however, Lotus acknowledged the huge momentum behind standards-based open solutions, announcing that it will offer a new mail directory and other servers built on Internet-only protocols, including TCP/IP, HTTP, SMTP, POP3, IMAP4, LDAP, and SFL--all grouped under the code name Domino II.

Lotus also said it would offer a Domino II Web server that will leverage one of the crown jewels of Notes--data replication--for browsers instead of the Notes client. Replication, which allows multiple data bases on a network to automatically update each other with new information, remains one of the major shortcomings of Netscape's Intranet offerings, though the company says it will introduce the capability in the next 18 months.

The Domino II web server, which will go into beta testing by the end of the year, will make replication and other Notes facilities available on Intranets without requiring customers to buy the full-fledged Notes server. In July, Lotus will also ship an earlier version of Domino, which combines Web server capabilities in the standard Notes server.

"[Domino II] is built around a pure Internet standards play," said Jeff Papows, Lotus executive vice president and COO. "Support of all the obvious standards at this point is just that--obvious."

In a related development, a Lotus spokesman today denied published reports that Lotus was negotiating with Netscape to license its replication engine for Netscape software. "It's pure speculation," said spokesman Joe Cordo.

Lotus officials also downplay a white paper published last week by Netscape, in which the company outlined its next-generation Orion server and Galileo client software, saying that Netscape is far from delivering on its vision.

"The vision of what [Netscape] is bringing in the next 18 months sounds very familiar to what we're offering now," Papows said. "You can wait 18 months for Orion or get Domino now." The first domino server is in beta testing now.

Other intranet initiatives announced by Lotus today:
--packaged with the Domino II product line will be the Interactive Application Designer, a development tool for creating HTML pages as well as more advanced database applications.
--the Mobile Information Manager, personal information management software designed to work with Web browsers that leverages Notes' agent technology.
--in September, Lotus will ship Notes release 4.5, which will allow the Notes 4.5 client to take advantage of Domino Web server technology through Web-based calendaring, scheduling, Java, and Netscape plug-in capabilities.