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GroupWise upgrade combines office, Net features

Novell launches its GroupWise 5 client-server email engine today, part of its efforts in the fast-growing intranet applications market.

Novell (NOVL) launched its GroupWise 5 client-server email engine today, part of a corporate extravaganza in New York City meant to help jump-start company efforts in the fast-growing intranet applications market.

The long-awaited software builds on its predecessor, GroupWise 4.1, to combine traditional office functions and Internet capabilities in its one-stop mailbox system. Novell executives stressed the product's collaborative qualities that allow for threaded email conversations and sharing of information. The product also integrates calendaring and scheduling, task management, shared folders, conferencing, voice mail, and faxes as part of one messaging application.

GroupWise's WebAccess feature will allow access to email with the help of any HTML browser, and will sell at the same price as the earlier version. Licenses start at $718 for five users and go to $32,625 for 250 users when it ships in two weeks, according to the company.

The software was launched worldwide today in Japanese, German, and English versions and will be available in December in 12 other languages as well, as part of Novell's drive to dominate the growing groupware market, the company said.

Vic Langford, senior vice president and general manager of Novell's Internet and intranet unit, said in a teleconference this morning that "today, the conversation (among corporate executives) is about the intranet." Langford hopes to sell intranet solutions to a million new customers, bringing the number of GroupWise users to 8 million.

The company is emerging from difficult years of what Langford called "character building," determined to win a significant chunk of what he estimated as $10 billion in intranet network software market opportunities in the next four years.

"We do believe we are at a crossroads. Intranets are going to be used for more mission critical work," which would make the Net and software like GroupWise 5 central to business in the future, Langford added.

However, analysts suggest that the company, best remembered for developing the NetWare network operating system to connect personal computers into information and email sharing networks, may be too late to join the party.

Responding to criticism that the new GroupWise offers little that is not already available in the form of shareware to Internet users, Steward Nelson, vice president and general manager of the GroupWare Division said "we look at it as a real environment for the two to work together well."

The company faces stiff competition from industry stalwarts Lotus and Microsoft. Lotus plans on launching Notes 4.5 next week, and Microsoft will send its Exchange 4.5 into beta testing by month's end.

When it ships at the end of the month, GroupWise 5 will support Internet standards TCP/IP, SMTP, and MIME with future plans to support IMAP, POP and LDAP standards. Versions for Windows 3.1, Windows 95, and NT will be available by the third week of October. Macintosh, Unix Motif, and Unix servers will be out during the first quarter next year, according to the company.