Not everyone is thrilled by Notes 8; the Outlook 2003 look-a-like

I admit, IBM has made great progress with Notes 8. Then again if you consider the UI they ‘innovated’ it could only become better.

IBM now shows the new client off by asking customers “spot the Notes client” and they show a side-by-side screenshot of Notes 8 and Outlook 2003 or 2007.

A big compliment for Microsoft Outlook. But is this really the incentive for customers to stick with Lotus Notes or to consider moving off of their current platform to Lotus Notes ?

IBM will say, Notes 8 is much more than just an email / calendar / task / contacts client. And it is, IBM has integrated a lot more functionality into the “überclient”

According to a post by Volker Weber a bit too much :

… I know this is a touchy topic for Notes enthusiasts. But is the new design really progress? Look at this screenshot provided my IBM.

notes 8 mail interface

In many respects it apes the popular Outlook interface. But it is also very busy: a menu bar, tabs with the Open button, a toolbar with a search entry field, then another toolbar with s a “show” selector, then a header with a “sort” selector, then finally the items, two lines each. Within the message some decoration (globe) and a busy header. …

Gartner Group has also provided a response to Notes 8 :

… The long wait for Lotus users is over. The impressive new functionality of Notes and Domino 8 will make the faithful happy. But new users still need to be won over. …

… The composite application development improvements potentially open up rich new possibilities for users. However, this base is still concentrated in very large accounts and IBM has not done enough to expand its presence to the larger market of organizations with less than 10,000 people. As with any broad platform, this is a strategic choice. While WebSphere is not required, users who do not wish to go down the WebSphere route will have fewer reasons to adopt Notes/Domino 8. IBM must move quickly to capitalize on the possibilities Notes/Domino 8 introduces, since Microsoft continues to be a formidable competitor and smaller Web 2.0 startups have also aimed at this market. …

My conclusion : nice UI, have been using the Microsoft version of it for years (since 2003 !) and like it. Microsoft is more than Outlook and it will take more than mimicking Outlook in this competition. Also the majority of organisation in the market for a collaboration platform or innovating their current platform look beyond the UI, at least the clients I talk to.


Update 31-8-2007 : Alan Lepofsky posted a 2 page “training card” on Notes 8. This simplifies things … or not … 

There is a two page training card, Using Lotus Notes 8 which you can print out:
Image:A lot of new Notes 8 content


Update 3-9-2007 : And its gets better. Ed Brill also posted about an article referring to the Gartner report I quoted. Be sure to check all the comments.  

Peter de Haas
Peter de Haas
Artikelen: 3803

20 reacties

  1. Errol,
    That seems a good choice. I would say your comapny needed to make a platform choice anyway.
    I wonder how you ended up with Exchnage as mail platform and Domino as an application platform.
    Also you have 300 users and you’ve build an ERP system in Domino and now have a need for composite applications, this must mean your company does very specials things where standard aplications don’t fit or are too expensive ?

  2. As a current user and administrator, it has changed thoughts internally in my office (less than 300 persons) on keeping Exchange as a server and Outlook 2003 as the client. We currently use Domino already for all of our HR applications, Loan Requests, Purchasing, etc. so the switch back is very logical to us and the UI improvements did help. We are very interested in composite applications as we have a very heterogeneous environment.

  3. I think that most people who have had an opportunity to compare the Lotus Notes/Domino with Microsoft Outlook/Exchange will agree that traditionally Domino has been regarded as the stronger back-end email system and that Outlook was traditionally considered the nicer looking front-end system for email.
    The enhancements that Lotus has made to the Lotus Notes 8 Client particularly for the email user interface has significantly improved the user interface.
    The comparison of user interfaces that you referred to came from a side-by-side comparison of the user interfaces that at least in one IBM presentation to a crowd of approximately 30 people being split roughly 50/50 in being able to correctly identify which UI was Outlook and which was Notes 8.
    That is not to say that I personally think that the Outlook UI is particularly good (I don’t) nor do I think that the Outlook UI is innovative (I don’t), because Microsoft has simply mimicked some of the more contempory UI design ideas from Groove, IBM Workplace and the Eclipse platform.
    In fact in email functionality both Lotus and Micrssoft have been stealing each others ideas for years, which is not necessarily a bad thing, as end users benefit from innovation regardless of its source.
    Microsoft has even claimed that the Ribbon concept was a Microsoft invention, but ignores the fact that Lotus introduced that very same UI concept in eSuite over a decade ago.
    I concede that Microsoft pays a lot of attention to good UI design, but to smugly insinuate that Microsoft is the leader and innovator in this area and that Lotus 8 is simply copying Microsoft is a blatant distortion of the facts.
    But now that Lotus has taken steps to matched Microsoft in the User Interface, perhaps this might spur Microsoft to make some much needed improvements to the back end Exchange server.

  4. @ Ian
    Customers who have had the opportunity to compare Lotus Notes Domino to MS Exchange and Outlook experienced more than a nice UI. Usability and TCO, these have proven to be big drivers for organisations to move off of ND.
    Again its great that IBM does this comaprison of UI’s and that client can’t tell the difference. It proves Microsoft’s focus on what users want and like to be right many years ago.
    I honoustly don’t care who was the inventor of this UI format and who gets the recognition for that. It’s what you do with innovations that counts.
    Microsoft took a certain amount of risk with the ribbon in Office and some critics are still not over it. People who actually work with it love it, and they are the only onces that know what they are talking about.
    Microsoft has been able to build and grow marketshare not only through UI’s, but through providing users and organisations what they want.
    The result is there if you like it or not. And we can talk about stability, scalability and all sorts of unsubstantiated comparisons all day but that doesn’t change the fact that Microsoft won the hearts of the end user, forced IBM in bluilding an Outlook connector for Domino 😉
    Let’s hope Microsoft does not implement allthe ‘much needed improvements’ at once in the next version of Exchange, because what arguments would that leave Lotus ? 🙂

  5. Hey Peter, why did Microsoft build an Outlook connector for Domino? And what about that “grow marketshare” statement — IDC says that MS lost share in this space in 2006?

  6. Ed,
    For Microsoft this strategy makes sence as an entry into the account I would say.
    With regards to marketshare. I have not seen the report.
    Reason why I would like to first see the report before I start to ‘worry’ is that I wonder which revenue they’ve taken into account when comparing ‘integrated collaboration platforms’.
    Maybe you can tell me ?

  7. I don’t understand the question. IDC’s methodology has been the same for years — so go back to the 2005 report (oddly, still posted on and you’ll see the way they measure.

  8. give me a week
    per 1/9 I have access to the august reports and I will most certainly let you know.
    Dataquest by the way has also produced marketshare figures which don’t show any decline for Microsoft.
    They do show some growth for IBM/Lotus as well but not enough 😉

  9. At any rate, I have yet to talk to a customer who, upon hearing of the 2006 market share reports, remains concerned about IBM’s viability in this market. That’s the key. Growing share according to IDC, growing in the market according to Dataquest. This news was enough to kick a deal that was “on the fence” over our way, just last week.
    It sure beats hearing that Notes is dead.

  10. Ed,
    You are completely right.
    Marketshare is something you and I may worry about and depending on the trend we put it on an slide.
    Clients I talk to (and I assume you to) are interested in vision, getting more benefits out of what they have and implementing new ways of communications, new ways of working in teams, etc.
    Good for you that the IDC information convinced this particular client. I have yet to come accross a client who I can convince with just an analyst report …
    Bottomline, maybe customers are not concerned anymore about Lotus Notes Domino’s future, but in the recent 4-5 years Microsoft has shown them that there is a viable alternative or in Gartner’s words a “formidable competitor”.
    I can tell you Microsoft is more worried about Google than it is about IBM in this space. Maybe IBM should also get a bit more concerned about Google than holding on to the IDC report 😉

  11. An advantage of not having a significant share in SMB is that you do not have to worry that much about Google, at least not yet.

  12. @ Henning,
    That seems a very very short term comfort feeling to me …
    I also remember there was a time that IBM (and others) laughed at Microsoft for its presence in the consumerspace.
    Just another place in the market IBM gave up on ….

  13. Peter my comment has little to do with a short term vision.
    Indeed IBM left the consumer market but do you consider IBM a weak company today?
    Even if Google will grow up IBM will probably just move somewhere else.
    That happened when they recently sold the PC business to Lenovo. Of course I would sometimes like to see a more stand up and fight attitude from IBM but it seems they are very well aware of what they can do (and what not).
    I wish IBM would do more in certain areas but they did not promise it. This is not an IBM only story. As much as I hope that Microsoft will take back Vista and make up their mind, they won’t do it either.

  14. @Henning
    You know I don’t consider IBM a weak company (I hope).
    But over th last 25 years or so many of their strategies concerning the desktop didn’t work out.
    I mentioned Google since IBM does still seem to push for a “partnership” rather than looking at them as a threat for most particular their Lotus brand. This is not a short term vision “thingie” in my mind.
    Get it, you’re not a Vista fan 😉

  15. Peter,
    Sorry I am late to the conversation. But I have to wonder why a customer I work with would rather switch to the Notes 8 client than continue using Outlook via DAMO?

  16. DAMO = Domino Access for Microsoft Outlook. It comes free with Domino and lets you use Outlook as a front end to the Domino server, rather like the MS connector but with more functionality, I believe.
    – Mike

  17. Mike, Thanks.
    I know for a fact that Microsoft continous to improve the Outlook Connector for Domino. So this would defenitly be worth a try.
    Again it is always good to have a better understanding of the clients installed base prior to making any judgement.
    Let’s wait until CHris returns

  18. “…TCO, these have proven to be big drivers for organisations to move off of ND.”
    I’ve only once heard a customer tell me they’d lower their TCO with Exchange, and that was based on some figures Microsoft gave him in a report they gave him based on his environment (duh). Every other conversation I’ve ever had with a customer about moving off Domino has always been the ‘we like Outlook’ argument, and these have tailed off since we started showing Notes 8. Most of those customers come to realise that Outlook isn’t a good enough argument.
    Pat on the back to Microsoft for making Outlook attractive, but shame some of the time and money wasn’t spent on security and version-to-version compatibility… or on Exchange which is like Outlook’s evil twin.
    I don’t get how Exchange can cost less to own – every upgrade is a challenge (or a migration) and stuff like active / active clustering has been pulled out (presumably because it wasn’t working, no-one has ever confirmed the reason). And now with the Symphony editors in Notes 8 organisations can cut their Office costs. That lowers the TCO.
    If Notes 8 does give a nod to the Outlook interface, that was because a lot of usability testing was done on Outlook users, and one of the goals was to ensure both Notes and Outlook (and other e-mail) users would be comfortable with the experience. This will ensure that when companies move off Outlook / Exchange the transition will be easier for them.
    By the way, any news on the Exchange roadmap? We’re still waiting…

  19. Darren
    With regards to TCO, the difference in costdrivers have been pointed out in different reports by different analists. I very much agree with you that these reports in themselves are not the whle answer.
    A custmer is nt a theoretical entity and customers themselves, or with the help of partners shuld make their own business case.
    In many cases I have seen these exercises have a favourable outcome for Microsoft.
    With regards to the Notes 8 UI, you must have seen al the ppt’s and PR aruond the fact that it looks so much like Outlook. Finally a decent (yet very crowded) UI for Notes.
    WIth regards to the roadmap question. You may n=know by now that Microsoft approaches roadmaps different than IBM. We discuss futures of the platform, including Exchnage very often with clients, some things under NDA. We prefer sharing this info with clients rather than competition 😉

Reacties zijn gesloten.