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Lotus suite pushes collaboration

Lotus introduces a new collaboration software package that allows distributed users to work together over the Internet.

Lotus's new collaboration software package that allows distributed users to work together over the Internet brings to an end, at least in name, its successful Instant Team Room teamware product.

Expected to be available later this quarter as a standalone product, Lotus QuickPlace allows workgroups within and between companies using their Internet browser to set up a customized workplace to centrally communicate, share, and organize information, documents, and schedules relating to a particular project.

Lotus executives said the new product is the next version of its Instant Team Room teamware product released in 1997, a Domino-based, rentable application that allows workgroups to establish a private workspace outside of a corporate firewall on the Web. Teamroom also allows for collaboration on projects in an easy-to-access and secure manner.

"We're not burying the product," said Steve Brand, Lotus Quick Place product manager. "We will continue to support people using Team Room for projects. The service providers will continue to host Team Room until the projects are complete."

When any new customers want to host teamware services, it will be through the QuickPlace package, he added.

The new QuickPlace package will also be bundled with the new Domino R5 Application Server and Domino R5 Enterprise Server when they ship later this month.

Beginning in the second quarter of this year, QuickPlace will also be available as a hosted service through Lotus's hosting partners currently using Team Room.

Using technology from Lotus's Domino Web server family, QuickPlace is designed for cross-organizational and distributed teams working online.

Lotus said QuickPlace allows companies that lack technical departments or want to lessen IT workloads to establish and use collaboration applications over the corporate Internet.

In addition, America Online will work with Lotus, an IBM subsidiary to codevelop "Web community" software for AOL members. Lotus will also promote the new AOL-hosted Lotus QuickPlace trial service by providing a link from the Lotus Notes R5 client software to AOL, where customers can evaluate the service.

"Lotus QuckPlace represents the next generation of teamware tools, with a new level of functionality, customization, interactivity? and collaborative capability that leapfrogs existing solutions and brings self-service Web collaboration to the mainstream," Brian Bell, senior vice president of Lotus's Emerging Products Group, said in a statement.

The standalone QuickPlace server will be priced at $995, and when companies deploy their own QuickPlace servers, browser end users are required to purchase a Lotus client access license for $40.

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