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Notes-Domino won't fall into place in '98

Despite earlier claims, Lotus will not ship the next version of its feature-packed Notes-Domino email product this year.

    It's going to be a blue Christmas for Lotus customers.

    Despite earlier claims, Lotus Development will not ship the next version of its Notes/Domino duo this year, the company said.

    Lotus officials said Notes/Domino 5.0 will now be announced in January, at the company's Lotusphere conference and will ship sometime next year.

    The latest ship date change comes after a string of delays in the product's beta testing as well.

    Lotus rolled out the second public beta of Notes/Domino R5 on November 15, after delaying the final testing phase by several months. These delays raised red flags for some observers who said it brought the fourth quarter release of the final product into question.

    Domino 5.0 features an improved user interface, enhanced real-time messaging features, and support for Java applets.

    Notes 5.0, previously code-named Maui, combines Internet email, calendaring 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.

    The company has said the delays were due to an expansion of the software's feature list in response to customer demand.

    A number of new groupware features "will be included in a 5.x release," a company spokesman said. "Likewise, offerings such as Lotus Sametime for 5.0 will not ship concurrently with Release 5.0."

    Sametime is an independent suite of client, server, and application development products that can be optionally integrated with the Notes R5 client, the Domino server environment and their applications.

    Lotus Notes and Domino compete with Microsoft Exchange in the hotly contested market for corporate electronic mail systems.

    Analysts say the latest release, backed by a strong strategy, is what Lotus needs to maintain its place in the increasingly competitive groupware market, as companies like Microsoft and Netscape begin making strides with their groupware offerings.