IBM/Lotus Wednesday unveiled the first public beta of Notes/Domino 8 and said the software is still on track to ship in the middle of this year.
The Notes 8 client and companion Domino 8 server are key to IBM's strategy for unified communications. The client represents the front-end integration of presence and document management tools, as well as social networking software called Lotus Connections that the company introduced at its annual Lotusphere conference in January.
It also is the first Notes managed client to be built on Lotus Expeditor (formerly called the Workplace Client Technology) and Eclipse, which lets Notes 8 act as a client for XML-based services, composite applications that combine such services, and applications that incorporate XML-based interfaces.
"This is not your father's Notes," said Ken Bisconti, vice president of Lotus messaging and collaboration tools for IBM.
Bisconti said the client is where users can pull together collaboration and content services, real-time communication, syndication feeds and document authoring tools, including support for the Open Document Format. "These are all capabilities that business users require in an integrated tool," said Bisconti, who made repeated references to rival Microsoft, which made a significant unified communications announcement last week around support for VoIP and recently released Office 2007 and Exchange 2007 as a competitor to Notes/Domino 8.
With Notes 8, IBM also has upgraded the feature set of its traditional mail, calendaring and contact tools, including in-line spell checking, mail recall, the ability to group e-mail threads, a sidebar view of the calendar and the ability to collaborate with users starting within a contact list.
Lotus Notes 8, formerly code-named Hannover, was introduced in June 2005 and publicly demonstrated for the first time at Lotusphere in 2006. A private beta was launched in November.
Bisconti says IBM plans at least one more beta as part of the public beta cycle before the software ships midyear.