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Radnet aims to take Notes

With a tip of the hat to Lotus Development's Notes, the engineers at Radnet unveil the next generation of its competing WebShare.

With a tip of the hat to Lotus Development's Notes groupware, the engineers at Radnet today unveiled the next generation of its competing WebShare.

The WebShare 2.0 package combines the openness of the Web with some of the most powerful features found in Notes and other groupware. One particularly well-regarded Notes function--replication, or the ability to update information across a network--is one of hundreds of new features that company officials said the new version offers.

WebShare 2.0, which heads to beta testing this month, will enter the market by the end of the quarter. It is the second major release of WebShare, Radnet's single product offering.

WebShare will go head to head with Domino--the Web-ready successor to Notes--offering a similar array of Web conferencing, publishing, database, and workflow tools, said Don Bulens, Radnet's president and chief executive officer and the former architect of Lotus's well-regarded business partners program.

Bulens conceded that Lotus Notes' substantial installed base will give Domino a leg up in that market segment. However, Radnet is banking on groupware's growing allure among the vast universe of companies that never before dabbled in the stuff.

Groupware has become a rapidly growing segment of the software market as more companies set up private intranets. Radnet and other Web software developers have scrapped the old client-server model of collaborative computing by local and wide area networks in favor of a Web-based approach that requires less investment and computing infrastructure.

To make itself attractive to a broad customer base, the company has come up with two branded packages developed specifically to integrate with Microsoft BackOffice and Netscape Communictions SuiteSpot server software.

The product supports several Internet protocols for easy integration with existing software and hardware, or it can be used as a base for complex electronic commerce and database operations. Radnet supports native HTML script and the SSL security standards. WebShare also offers out-of-box support for ActiveX and Java components.

Despite growing competition destined to drive many Web groupware makers out of the market this year, Internation Data Corporation analyst Ian Campbell was upbeat about Radnet's prospects. The small, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based start-up was founded last year by a handful of former Lotus engineers.

"They certaintly have some challenges ahead. But realistically, Radnet will do pretty well," Campbell said. He praised Radnet's engineers and marketing executives.

WebShare--which includes server software and a development tool called the Designer--supports Windows NT. By the second quarter, Radnet expects to add support for the Sun Microsystems' Solaris platform. The server will cost $2,195, and the Designer will be priced at $995.