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Lotus spruces up next office suite

The company is preparing the next version of its office productivity software for release this year.

Lotus Development is preparing the next version of its office productivity software for release later this year.

SmartSuite R10 is slated to ship to testers late next month or early March, with a release date planned for mid-1999, said Robert Norton, director of product management for the IBM subsidiary.

SmartSuite Millennium Edition will contain new versions of WordPro, the 1-2-3 spreadsheet, Lotus Approach database, Organizer personal information manager, Freelance Graphics program, and speech recognition technology for 1-2-3 and WordPro.

In addition, Lotus plans to integrate SmartSuite with the next version of Notes R.5, allowing for better compatibility with the collaboration software.

"We have freshened-up the product. We have redesigned the user interface to look similar to Notes R.5," Norton said. "And we are contemplating some packaging" decisions, Norton said. He did not provide further details.

Norton said the new version of SmartSuite will also be compatible with Office 2000 files and will continue to feature connection capabilities for enterprise applications developed by SAP and PeopleSoft .

Customers will be able to get the product as a CD or as a Web-based update, Norton said.

He said pricing for the new version will remain around the same as SmartSuite Millennium edition, which is on shelves now for $399. Upgrades from previous versions, or from competitive products, are priced at $149.