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Lotus plugs new Notes, Domino duo

As the early July beta launch looms large for its latest groupware suite, Lotus shows off some new features and new real-time collaborative technologies.

WESTFORD, Massachusetts--As the early July beta launch date looms large for the latest version of its groupware suite, Lotus Development here today showed off some new features in the messaging client and new real-time collaborative technologies.

Product managers from the IBM subsidiary demonstrated version 5 of its Domino Web server and Notes client messaging and collaboration package, due for general shipping in the second half of the year.

The latest version of the Notes and Domino groupware/Web server duo will feature an improved user interface, enhanced real-time messaging features, and support for Java applets, the company said.

The software, previously code-named Maui, combines Internet email, calendering and scheduling, personal document management, news groups, browsing, and native HTML authoring into an integrated client that can access standards-based Internet servers. Notes now supports HTML 4.0 and IBM's x.509 client and server certificates. Pricing will be announced later in the year.

Expected to ship the same time as Notes, Domino 5.0 is the latest version of Lotus's messaging and collaboration software for the Internet, intranets, and extranets, with further support for Internet standards, like LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) v3, and S/MIME, an email security standard. It also features new push services for centralized client updates and graphical planning and administrative tools.

"Before now, Domino was not seen as the best Web development environment," said Ken Bisconti, director of strategic marketing of the communications products division at Lotus. With release 5, Lotus believes it has gotten to that level, he said.

Lotus product managers also showed off new features of its client- and server-based products that deliver real-time collaborative features. Based on what the company's calling the Sametime server, the software will allow users to work one-on-one, in teams, and across the Internet via synchronous collaboration applications, including email, chat, document editing, and audio and video.

Sametime products will include server technology and three different clients: CoWorker, which features chat, instant messaging, and contact lists; a Notes messaging client that can work within Notes release 4.6; and an as of yet unnamed applications development client which supports Java and ActiveX. It will also be included in its distance learning product LearningSpace.

The new family of products marks a direct strike at Microsoft's NetMeeting, a real-time collaborative package put out by the Redmond, Washington-based software giant.

Sametime's features goes beyond NetMeeting, product manager Steven R. Cappo told the audience in Westford today. "NetMeeting gave a big push to this market?but it needed better ways to find people online, for example. We believe that there has got to be a better way."

As earlier reported, Sametime is the direct result of two major acquisitions made by the company and IBM of the Israel-based Ubique, and Kentucky-based DataBeam. Both companies are established players in the real-time collaborative applications marketplace.

Although the core of the new Sametime product line will be realized with the Notes and Domino 5.0 release later this year, Cappo said some of the features can already be used in Notes 4.6.

Sametime technology will also be used in Lotus's partnership with America Online, which will make AOL's Instant Messenger (AIM) service available to Notes users.

Pricing for Domino and Notes 5.0 and Sametime products are not yet available.