IT Jungle: Notes/Domino 8 Beta Reveals UnLotus-Like Improvements

I noticed Ed Brill highlighting this article and was curious as to what brilliant things IBM has come up with that “one-upped” Microsoft …

… In other words, IBM has made some serious, and long overdue, efforts to bring Notes/Domino up the ease of use standards that have led to the success of Microsoft Outlook and Exchange. And to give Big Blue its due, in several ways it has one-upped its rival.

Take, for example, the productivity editors that are based on the OpenDocument Format. Not only do they create “light” versions of spreadsheets, word processing, and graphic tools, but they take aim at Microsoft’s tradition of loading up customers with licensing fees for such tools. You can bet this will not go without mention when Notes and Outlook are compared. …

So what are we comparing ? Outlook (the email client) against Notes (the email client) or Outlook (the email client) against ND8 (the all incumbent collaboration platform including “editors”)

Let’s be clear here comparing these editors against Microsoft Office 2007 is an apples and oranges discussion. If you want to make comparisons let’s agree on what solution is required in what context and furthermore compare platform capability instead of features.

… Also on the conveniences check list for N/D 8 are improvements in the management of emails. Specifically, the inbox view has new grouping options that, for instance, allow users to organize messages by conversational threads rather than simply by date and time. Other useful features are the extended search capabilities that go beyond e-mail and contacts and into the areas of Web and file searches, without leaving the inbox. Instant messaging is also embedded. …

Wow cool features … that also all exist in the Microsoft platform. So I don’t really see a unique distinction here

… IBM will also take every opportunity to skewer Microsoft over the number of computing platforms and software systems that Lotus supports, including Linux (Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10) and Windows XP on the client side and i5/OS, AIX, Linux (both from Novell and Red Hat), Sun Microsystems‘ Solaris, and Windows on the server side. IBM Lotus officials say users can upgrade both the client and server from prior releases and that hardware requirements and compatibility does not change with N/D 8. …

Yes this surely is a differentiator. I do however have the following questions :

  1. Why do customers really care about the platform or are there other drivers such as availability, interoperability or TCO that play a more important role.
  2. What does the current installed base of Lotus Notes Domino look like relative to computing platforms and  what is the trend. I mean IBM is touting this “key differentiator” for years. Don’t get me wrong I do understand that IBM ABM standpoint and strategy, but question the whether the demand is market driven or IBM generated. My guess until proven otherwise is the latter one …

Source: ITJungle.com

As long as we are comparing apples and oranges. Ed also mentioned in his post that the ND8 beta had reached 22.000 downloads and that’s in almost 2 weeks. Compare this to the 200.000 downloads of Office 2007 in 24 hours and 3.000.000 in 2 months; could we conclude that the interest therefor is somewhat bigger for Office compared to the ND8 editors ?

Peter de Haas
Peter de Haas

Peter is gepassioneerd door de grenzeloze mogelijkheden van technologische vooruitgang. Met meer dan 35 jaar ervaring in de IT heeft hij talloze ontwikkelingen zien opkomen en hun impact op organisaties en mensen meegemaakt. Met een scherp oog voor het identificeren van oplossingen waar anderen alleen problemen zien, is hij een ware expert in digitale transformaties.
Peter helpt individuen, teams en organisaties bij het ontwikkelen van nieuwe vaardigheden en het implementeren van baanbrekende oplossingen. Zijn inzichten en ervaringen maken hem een gewaardeerde bron voor iedereen die de nieuwste technologische trends wil begrijpen en toepassen.

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17 reacties

  1. Peter,
    As for comparing apples and oranges. You compare downloads of MSO 2007 beta with LN8 beta? Check out this instead http://stats.openoffice.org/#stats. N8 will give all the worlds Notes users ODF-editors a mouse click away.
    1. Customers look at TCO and does not like vendor lock in. The option to use different os:es helps.
    2. Notes/Domino is both an email system and a mature application platform. Thats different

  2. Patix,
    I know what N8 attempts to provide … cool ODF editors. I am just wondering who will use them as a true / full replacement of MS Office. Has Open Office been succesfull in terms of capturing marketshare / Will N8 be successful in getting marketshare ? I doubt it, but let’s see
    1. Yes vendor lockin. I guess clients having piles and piles of Domino apps have freedom of choice don’t they. They can choose different OSs but can never leave ’the platform” 😉
    2. I know. I am not trying to compare ND8 with Outlook / Exchange. ND8 should be comapred woth Office System, that’s Microsoft’s platform that really is comparable to the IBM Lotus platform …

  3. Paix,
    My conclusion around the editors is that certainly for some usergroup niches it will be relevant, But for other user communities it takes more that “free software”
    Comparing OpenOffice and MS Office (especially Professional Plus / Enterprise) is really apples and oranges …

  4. A likely scenario in a corporation is that you have some users with Notes/Open office and perhaps Linux, and some with Windows and MS Office or only Excel. I think Excel will be the hardest to migrate from because of all the macros and formulas. But emulation, like Wine, and virtualization is advancing rapidly.
    1. True, very true Peter 🙂 And I am a Notes guy and thus biased, but as I see it Notes/Domino is worth that lock in. At least today. The reason being that it’s a unique platform with key benefits that, compared to the alternatives, reduces the cost of application development and maintenance.
    2. What and how to compare is always difficult. I think you have to throw in Exchange, Share point, Visual Studio, SQL and IIS if you want to compare Notes/Domino with MS products. The Open Office productivity editors in N8 is more of a nice extra feature as I see it. It will lower the doorstep for companies that decide to use Open Office.

  5. @Ian,
    You are right to a certain extend when it comes to Office macro and Excel sheets. I don’t see that much developemnbt in exchange (except for Public folders) and SharePoint.
    In al lot of Notes migrations today we see the client taking the SharePoint functionality and standard templates ‘out-of-the-box’and not develop that many bespoke applications like they used to do in Domino.
    Domino filled a need for many many years with regards to rapid application development. The trend I see today however is that of ERP and standard applications and services. The legacy though (although ND8 and all other version support older apps) is a lock-in.
    DO not quite agree on Microsoft playing catchup in any of the email / collaboration stuff today and in the near future. I do agree however that competition needs to continuously make drive Microsofts product development and innovation. I think that Microsoft is driving IBM in many ways as well, look for example at the innovation boost around SameTime.
    You really think ND8 is a move by IBM to make Lotus Notes Domino simpler ? ok.

  6. Peter, I don’t understand how any application development in the Exchange, Share point, MS Office, Groove and other members of the Microsoft product family don’t also constitute a vendor lock-in to Microsoft.
    Many of the improvements that IBM has made to Notes 8 and the email client are long overdue, but perhaps some of these improvements will benefit Microsoft customers in the long term because they may spur Microsoft to play catch-up and also make improvements to their own products.
    Also perhaps Microsoft could be enticed to follow IBM’s lead and take steps to make some of their products simpler and easier to use.

  7. Peter, the premise of this post shows how difficult things are for Microsoft. You have complained for a long time about not comparing Notes to Outlook. Now you want to compare Notes, a business product, to Office, used by consumers, teachers, students, and probably even Martians. And Office — sure, 200K downloads, divided by 34 different products, and look! Each product was only downloaded an average of 6000 times in the time that we got tens of thousands of Notes downloads!

  8. Ed,
    I am nnot comparing ND8 to Office. The relevant comparison is 2007 Office System.
    The discussion you refer to is on the editors; the ones ion the business product.
    Office is also a business product Ed. You yourself use it, your collegues use it. Roughly 95% of your clients use it … Total beta downloads : 3000000 that’s bg by any means …
    I don’t know about the martians. According to Heineken they do drink Heineken beer 🙂
    http://www.jugglingcats.com/video/heineken_mars_rover1.htm

  9. “Ptr”,
    To typical users MS Office is used to make butter and bread documents, spreadsheets and presentations. MS has put many weird features into Office through the years, the most infamous probably being the Office Assistant. And Office 2007 is no exception, or so I’ve heard. But I have yet to see any of them actually used in the real world. I frankly believe many users will prefer the lighter Open Office apps if they have them a mouse click away. I think Excel is the exception however. Excels deeper functionality is heavily used by corporations.
    It feels strange to hear concerns about vendor lock in from a Microsoft person. I’ve heard this kind of “The other guys are no better than us” arguing from other MS people lately. It saddens me, because that is the kind of argumentation a looser uses. Talk about your strengths. Not about the competition having the same weaknesses as you have.
    I can tell you this – I used to be a VB/C++ Visual Studio developer. Some time ago however, my largest client went from being mostly an MS shop to ban all MS development. Why? The client had made extensive investments in J++ and then MS canned that product. J++ was just a failed attempt by MS to embrace and extend Java. Too bad for the customers that actually used the product. Then we have the Visual Fred story. Visual Fred is what VB6 developers call VB .NET (http://vb.mvps.org/vfred/Trust.asp). MS have announced EOL on VB6 and *still* no good tools exist to easily convert or integrate VB6 apps to .NET.
    Today I only see the MS IDE when I occasionally write Excel VBA. And I actually miss VS sometimes, because it is a nice IDE. To bad it’s owned by a company obsessed by having it their way at any expense. Including their customers.
    Now switch the view to IBM Lotus Notes. New features and performance improvements have been added steadily. But *never* at the cost of backwards compatibility. An R1 database will work in an R7 environment. That is something that corporate customers really appreciate and I can tell from the number of requests for Notes/Domino development we get. And the new Lotus ND8 with the Expediter framework looks very interesting as well. It adds choice and keeps backwards compatibility. Just the way customers wants it.
    I heard from a colleague the other day that went to an Vista, MS Office 2007 seminar and Sharepoint that to use the latest and greatest stuff in the products, you need, of course, the latest version of the other products. So typical MS. The joke of the day was that the MS representative had seriously argued that you need an engineering degree to install Linux on a Laptop. Um no (http://www.ubuntu.com/).

  10. Patix,
    You are a persistent guy 🙂
    With regards to “microsoft puutiing strange things in office and Office 2007 being no different”
    Is it really strange to further expand on your string foothold on every business pc out there with capability that addresses :
    – Enterprise Content Mangement needs
    – Information Rights Managgement
    – Workflow needs
    – A UI that much better lets you navigate the application and more easily find what you need.
    I have no concers about vendor lockin, but let’s not pretend that supporting multiple OSs suddenly means freedon of movement and breaks it all ‘open’. No it doesn’t, the lockin basicly is on a defferent level ;-). I can not comment for ‘other Microsoft people saying things’ without the context this makes no sence.
    I am also not a developer so can not quite comment on developement software issues you mentioned.
    About the seminar : doesn’t this make sence to actually show in this seminar on the latest software what you can actually *do* with *this* software all combined ? It does to me, becasue this is *why* this seminar is organised.

  11. As long as Microsoft and IBM are battling their race of who is making the fattest software in the world I am not going to be happy with both.
    Unfortunately lowered license revenues and decreasing market shares seem to be the only two indicators that drive proprietary software vendors to make up their mind.
    What a pity. Sorry but for me this is more a competition of who sucks most than who excels at providing the best software solutions.

  12. Peter, it’s obvious that you haven’t had a chance to properly evaluate the Notes 8 beta client yet, hence your somewhat cynical comments. I am sure once you have has a chance to try it out you will agree with my comments about Lotus achieving significant enhancements and simplification at the same time.
    One way that simplification has been achieved is by hiding some of the more advanced features (basic or advanced menu toggle) while still making these features available to power users. This ability to hide or expose various features will be further enhanced at a more granular level through policy settings when Notes 8 is released.
    Another way that improvements and simplification have been achieved is to allow end users to switch on the fly between traditional features and enhanced features e.g. the use of the Open button vs Dock the Open List.
    However other enhancements such as multiple-level undo, real-time spell checker, recent collaborations, in-context and extended search, mail threads, recent contact type-ahead have been implemented in ways that are mostly transparent to existing users.
    What this means is that existing users can be immediately productive because the system retains sufficient familiarity to require no training, whereas new features are immediately available if required through non-intrusive ways. Both end users and administrators can tailor the extent of exposure to these new features, as they deem necessary.

  13. @ Henning,
    You are right with that statement. It seems a lot of energy seems to go into the cometition between the ‘current incumbents’.
    From a Microsoft perspectiive however we see Google as a majjor future competitor and as you know they have an entirely different business model. I am not saying you should expect major changes in the very short term. But I think changes need to happen to solutions and business models to compete effectively in a couple of years.
    As for loosing marketshare, talk to IBM 😉
    @ Ian
    NO I haven’t.
    Have you looked into 2007 Office System in any detail ?
    Have you looked at the new Office UI ?
    I would say that 95% of alle features you mention exist already for quite some time in Office.
    To be honoust, and I am saying this not only from a competitive standpoint, I am not overwhelmed with ND8. I do agree that coming from a ND5,6,7 environment it is almost a quantumleap with regards to UI

  14. NO, Peter, to be honest, I haven’t looked closely at 2007 Office Systems, as I am happy with my current version of Office.
    However, some of my clients HAVE looked closely at the costs of upgrading to 2007 Office Systems and they have indicated privately to me that are not happy that the benefits of an upgrade outweigh those costs. That is their comments not mine.
    Personally my intention was not to knock any of the Microsoft products, but to indicate that in my humble opinion, the gap in functionality between IBM and Microsoft has narrowed considerably of late. In some ways IBM is ahead and Microsoft is ahead in others, but overall it’s now a much closer race than you would probably like to admit in a public forum.
    But since you brought up the subject of loss of market share:
    Do you have any comments about the Yankee Report “2007 Global Server Hardware and Server OS Survey” (April 2007).
    This survey of nearly 1,000 IT managers and C-level executives indicated that 23% of the 1,000 IT Managers surveyed indicated they intended to migrate away from Exchange Server and switch to an alternative Linux or open source Email and messaging distribution platform over the next 12 to 18 months. The Managers surveyed attributed their decision to their belief that Linux Email and messaging packages are cheaper and easier to manage than Exchange,” according to study author and Yankee analyst Laura DiDio.
    I suggest that this Survey indicates that despite all the marketing rhetoric that not all Microsoft users are happy that they are getting value from their investment in Microsoft technology.
    However, if the Yankee Group Survey is indicative of a much broader trend, I wonder how the Microsoft “spin doctors” will deal with a 23% loss of your user base.

  15. @ Ian,
    With regards to the marketshare discussion expect a seperate post on that 🙂
    Although this report (still to be issued) has some thruth to it, it is also not in line with all other marketshare info out there.
    As long as this report is not issued oficially and I’ve read it, I can not comment on it fully. I have seen it also reflects on Notes or what’s left of it 😉

  16. @ VMGuru007
    Thanks for the link.
    I see your statement that people should look into the server comparison rather than (just) the client.
    I don’t see the value of comparing Domino 8 (Collaboration / Mail/Calendar / Applications) with Echange 2007 (Mail / Calendar).
    You dont need to be an analyst to know there’s a difference between the 2.
    The article is not a report in the sence that it provides a good underpinning / analysis of the arguments. Not really an analysis to base a decition upon I would say …

  17. Hi all,
    Its a great different between Lotus notes and Outlook. As already posted Lotus Notes 8 is all in one client. You got Same time, word processing, Sheets processing, database integration, forums integration is all few of what lotus notes 8 client can handle on the other side Outlook is only an e-mail client. Though to see where the differences and the power came of the client from you will need to look at the back end as well. You need to look at the server side differences between IBM Lotus Domino 8 and MS Exchange 2007. I am not going to go over the differences as they have been compared over many sites one of the best to look at is
    http://itcomparison.com/Mail/Exchange2k7vslotus8/Exchange2k7vslotus8.htm I hope that help you all doing a knowledgeable choice.
    Best Regards,
    VMGuru007

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