After two-year wait, IBM unveils Lotus Notes 8

Upgrade gives e-mail client software a modernized user interface

Two years in the making, IBM's Lotus division has finally unveiled version 8 of Lotus Notes and Domino.

By all accounts the much needed new version offers a modernized user interface and new usability tools and capabilities.

The changes are the result of building the version 8 client on top of the Eclipse-based rich client platform, according to IBM officials.

Version 8, released last week, represents IBM's future strategy to create client interfaces built on a common platform so that components of any client application can be provisioned and managed centrally, said Barton Group analyst Karen Hobert.

For example, Notes 8 is built on the same programming model as Lotus Expeditor 6.1.1, which is based on Eclipse.org open standards. The common client framework becomes an open client for mashups and composite applications in addition to the traditional Notes features.

Although Notes 8 may not steal market share from the Microsoft Outlook client, Hobert said that the new release will more than satisfy current Notes users.

"It was a product that has been neglected for quite some time," said Hobert. "Organizations who do have Notes mail can offer to their users an e-mail client that is on par with whatever else is out there."

Lotus Notes Version 8 offers users upgrades in three major areas: Extensibility through plug-ins and composite applications; provisioning capability, and ODF editors for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations.

Because the framework is an open standard, Java-based framework managers can also get at the controls to change menus based on usage models and to provision users by sending out a wrapped file that is easily opened on the client side.

Notes 8 will also include instant messaging and is shipping now.

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Ephraim Schwartz

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