Microsoft's claim of supremacy in the enterprise messaging market is premature, according to the author of one study that makes that boast.
The claim is also "an insult to customers", according to Lotus, whose flagship Notes software reigned atop the messaging world long before Exchange was a gleam in Bill Gates' eye.
However, Microsoft does have a case to make. Preliminary figures from the Electronic Mail & Messaging Systems (EMMS) newsletter survey show Exchange gaining 3.55 million seats in the second quarter to 3.1 million for Notes.
But perhaps more importantly, local integrators are finding the figures reflect their own product shipments.
"We're a Notes company ourselves so it's not the case but yes, new customers are predominantly buying Exchange," Ross Moody, Senteq's sales manager, told ARN. "But looking at our overall shipments, it's pretty much a line-ball decision although that's due in part to many current customers already having a commitment to Notes."
Good sales in Notes
Brett Pearce, GE Capital IT Services' marketing manager for collaborative computing, agrees with Moody.
"The installed base locally is still Notes-dominated," Pearce said. "People are talking more about Microsoft but we're seeing good sales in Notes."
While Exchange appears to be taking over as the preferred mail and messaging solution among new customers, Pearce claims the strength of Notes' collaborative features is keeping it a step ahead of Microsoft - for now.
"Notes has a greater heritage in that area so while we're just starting to see Exchange collaborative solutions appear, Microsoft have still got to get their [mail and messaging] installed base up before they can start selling at that level," Pearce said.
The latest EMMS count is the second consecutive quarterly gain for Exchange over Notes. The study is based on input from vendors and watched closely by industry experts.
Microsoft was quick to tout the recent numbers as evidence that Exchange has overtaken Notes as the messaging leader. However, that is an overstatement, cautions Eric Arnum, editor of the EMMS newsletter.
"Congratulations are in order for Microsoft, but I would hate for anyone to think that this is a permanent shift in market leadership," Arnum says. "The results are a sign that these guys will be dogging each other and that every quarter one or the other will be slightly ahead." In fact, Arnum predicted that Notes would outsell Exchange in the fourth quarter of this year, but that was based on Lotus shipping version 5.0 on time and that release has subsequently been delayed.
In a detailed response posted on its Web site (http://www.lotus.com), Lotus blasts Microsoft for what it calls a loose accounting of Exchange sales figures. But Microsoft remains unbowed by the criticism.