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New Notes, Domino due in beta

The company is confident that it will ship the products in the fourth quarter, despite concerns by analysts and industry observers.

With today's expected public beta launch of its flagship groupware package Notes and Domino 5.0, Lotus Development is confident that it will ship the products in the fourth quarter, despite earlier concerns by analysts and industry observers.

Originally due to be released in late August but delayed until this month, the public beta of Notes and Domino 5.0 will let licensed customers have a look at the latest version of the groupware-Web server duo, which will feature an improved user interface, enhanced real-time messaging features, and support for Java applets.

"When we first moved [the public beta] back in August, we fully anticipated the general release in the latter part of the fourth quarter," said Lotus spokesman Paul Davis.

The IBM subsidiary blamed the original delay on the need for additional work on the user interface while programmers were trying to finalize the Notes-Domino 5.0 beta code. At that time, the impact on the target of final shipment during the fourth quarter was being evaluated, the company said.

Today, Lotus said private beta testing has been extensive. It is being evaluated by thousands of business partners and hundreds of customers. Posting a public beta version to the Web was the next step in that process.

"Based on private feedback, we're expanding our beta program and are confident for shipping in the fourth quarter," Davis added.

The software, previously code-named Maui, combines Internet messaging, calendering and scheduling, personal document management, newsgroups, 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.

Expected to ship the same time as Notes 5.0, Domino 5.0 is the latest version of Lotus's messaging and collaboration software for the Internet, intranets, and extranets, with further support for Net standards such as 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.

Pricing will be announced later in the year.