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Lotus to allow Domino access from Microsoft Outlook

While the software maker says it is not ceding victory to its archrival in a long-running messaging software market war, it is certainly extending an olive branch.

    Jeff PapowsORLANDO, Fla.--While Lotus says it is not ceding victory to archrival Microsoft in a long-running messaging software market war, it is certainly extending an olive branch.

    At its annual user conference here, the company is set to announce today that it will allow users of Microsoft's Outlook client software to link to its Domino Web server software across corporate networks. The move is significant, since for years Lotus and Microsoft have fiercely defended their proprietary messaging products.

    During his final Lotusphere keynote address as chief executive, Jeff Papows said his company will provide access to Domino messaging and calendaring tools from Outlook, meaning that any Outlook user will be able to access most of Domino's technology services on a local area network. Previously, only users of Lotus Notes client software could access the services.

    Lotus executives downplayed the notion that Lotus is giving ground to Microsoft. "This agreement only has to do with messaging and calendaring," said Mike Zisman, vice president of strategy at Lotus, adding there are no plans to allow Outlook users to access Lotus' knowledge management application, called Dashboard.

    Papows said the move "is based on demand from business partners and customers. It is also built on mutual respect between (the two companies)."

    Conference attendees welcomed the move, while analysts said Lotus should go even further and link Domino to Microsoft's Exchange messaging server.

    "Ideally it would be great if Outlook could exercise a lot of the functionality in Domino, but that will never happen because Lotus will never allow it," said James Kobielus of The Burton Group. "Each one of the big vendors are making multi client moves, allowing users to get certain levels of support from their back end servers. It fits into a larger Web paradigm, where everything can be accessed through one browser."

    Lotus announced the Outlook move as part of its larger client strategy iNotes, which allows users of any Web browser and now Outlook to access more of its Domino Web server.

    The conference opens on the heels of the unexpected resignation of Papows. He spoke little about his decision to leave the company during his keynote speech, and has still not disclosed his next employer. Papows said last week he wants to lead an independent firm.

    "I didn't think it would be fair to Lotus customers, partners or IBM to do this while CEO," he said, referring to any disclosure of his future plans.

    Although he isn't speaking officially at the conference until Thursday, Al Zollar, Papows' replacement, was introduced to conference attendees by Papows. Zollar is a 23-year IBM veteran.

    Lotus also showed off its new knowledge management suite, code-named Raven. As previously reported, the new knowledge management suite brings together most of Lotus's knowledge management technology developed by the company over the past two years, including its real-time collaboration software SameTime, and the messaging and collaborative infrastructure of Domino and Notes, company executives said.

    Later this week, the Cambridge, Mass.-based company is expected to announce enhancements to its Notes client; further details on the Microsoft Outlook announcement; new mobile computing support for Domino; and a new branding scheme for Notes.