Novell has released the first public beta of the next version of its GroupWise messaging platform and said it would include a free version of its Linux Enterprise Server when the software ships in several months time.
GroupWise 7, which was code-named Sequoia, is the first of three releases of GroupWise slated over the next three years that will include a host of makeovers and upgrades such as interface enhancements, new collaborative features, expanded back-up capabilities, and cross-platform support.
New in version 7.0 are upgrades to the GroupWise client version that runs on Windows, including features that allow users to create multiple calendars.
Novell also has created what it calls a "home" view where users can have separate panes in the interface to show unread items, inbox, check lists, calendars, folders and contacts. Items from each pane can be dragged and dropped into other panes. Also new is a fast-navigation bar, a customizable toolbar that allows users to switch between views in the client, say from the in-box to the calendar.
Novell also has integrated presence awareness through its GroupWise Instant Messenger server and added an upgrade to its Web access client to mimic the interface of the GroupWise for Windows client.
Novell also has beefed up support for Microsoft Outlook, adding tight integration with the GroupWise backend.
"We see this coming into play if there has been any kind of acquisition or merger," says Wendy Steinle, director of collaborative product marketing for Novell.
Also new is support for the Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), which will allow Novell's Evolution Linux client to attach to GroupWise. The platform also supports cradle-based synchronization of PocketPC and Palm OS-based devices.
Novell also will include the 2.0 version of its free Migration Utility to move users from Microsoft Exchange.
In fact, Novell is launching an upgrade campaign, specifically targeted at users of Microsoft's aging Exchange 5.5 platform, that will let users trade in their current licenses for a US$49 GroupWise license that includes two years of upgrade protection. The price is $135 less than the regular price.
And to help jumpstart its Linux servers, Novell will include a SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 9.0 with GroupWise for customers with maintenance contracts. The server is restricted to running GroupWise only.
Novell is targeting August for the final ship date of GroupWise 7. In the coming years, the company plans to ship two more upgrades to GroupWise. The next version, code-named Aspen, is expected in the fall of 2006 and will include team collaboration upgrades, new data back-up capabilities and improvements for deploying third-party applications. The follow-on version, code-named Cedar, is expected in 2008 and will focus on cross-platform support and add improvements to team collaboration and administration.
Novell says it will support GroupWise through 2015.
The beta software is available at http://www.novell.com/groupwise.