Microsoft launches latest assault on Lotus customers

Microsoft launches latest assault on Lotus customers

Just a week ahead of its rival's annual user conference, Microsoft has unveiled a set of migration tools hoping to win converts from Lotus Notes.

The company updated its migration and co-existence tools and said it would release early this year two free tools for simple data migration from Lotus Notes applications.

Microsoft and IBM/Lotus have been involved in a collaboration battle for more than a decade. With a saturated e-mail market the pair have been left to try and steal each other's customers as both companies re-tool their collaboration platforms.

"Clearly, Microsoft is accelerating its attempt to get the Notes/Domino base to come to Exchange," said Matt Cain, an analyst with Gartner. Microsoft plans to ship Exchange 12 later this year.

Today, Microsoft made available on its Web site updated versions of its Exchange Connector for Lotus Notes/Domino, Exchange Calendar Connector for Lotus Notes/Domino and its Migration Wizard for Lotus Notes/Domino.

Later this year, the company will release Microsoft Application Analyzer 2006 for Lotus Domino, Microsoft Data Migrator 2006 for Lotus Domino and three new Windows SharePoint Services application templates.

The application analyzer, which will be available before the end of March, breaks down Lotus Notes applications into four categories and makes recommendation for migrating those applications.

Once users have that information, they can use the Microsoft Data Migrator 2006 for Lotus Domino, which is set to ship before the end of June, to migrate information from data-based Lotus Notes applications such as databases, document libraries and team rooms into Windows SharePoint Services.

Microsoft also is introducing three new SharePoint application templates, which are similar to Lotus Notes application templates. The templates will become part of the data migration tool. In August, Microsoft released 30 other application templates.

The Microsoft tools really are a simple set of tools to migrate data. Experts have always classified Lotus's application development environment as much more sophisticated than anything Microsoft has ever offered in its collaboration platform. For one, Microsoft does not offer a rapid application development tool comparable to Domino Designer. Microsoft's attempts to mimic the Lotus development platform in the late 90s never gained any significant user adoption and were eventually abandoned.

"Our vision is that collaboration should be a set of services that are available no matter where a user works, from any application," say Elise Graceffo, senior product manager for Microsoft's collaboration marketing team. "The whole idea of contextual collaboration is the ability to fire up an instant message from a Word document, start Live Meeting from Outlook, or be on a team space and see which members of your team are online. It is this idea of collaboration not as a group of applications but a set of services."

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