IBM acquired Lotus for $3.5 billion last year, principally to get its hands on the company's groupware franchise. But since then, Notes has come under increasing pressure from new groupware offerings designed to take advantage of intranets while Notes remains confined to proprietary networks that are harder to set up and more expensive to maintain.
To give Notes an edge in this intensifying battle, IBM said today at PC Expo here that it is going as far as to give away free copies of its Notes 4.1 server with all new purchases of IBM PC Servers. The company will also include Lotus Notes Mail in the next version of OS/Warp, code-named Merlin, which will allow OS/2 users to exchange email using Merlin's built-in speech recognition software.
In addition, IBM announced Web and Lotus Notes Connections for VisualAge for SmallTalk, the company's object-oriented development tool. The connections will help developers build intranet applications, including Java applets, based on Lotus Notes.
For its part, Lotus Development announced the Lotus Components Starter Pack, a suite of six software applets that users can plug into Notes to bring some level of basic application functionality to Notest databases. The components include Chart, Comment, Draw/Diagram, File Viewer, Project Scheduler, and Spreadsheet.