Lotus Development's SmartSuite 98 Millennium Edition gives users more intranet and Internet functionality and introduces the first speech-enabled spreadsheet.
Users and analysts said they are generally pleased with the product, but they aren't sure they need the new features. "My view is that we have two nuclear-powered toasters in the marketplace" with SmartSuite and Microsoft's Office, said Suzanne Snygg, an analyst at Dataquest.
The new SmartSuite features have great gee-whiz appeal, Snygg said, but she isn't sure users will want or need them.
Snygg said the suite plays to its strength with Notes. She also said Lotus could see some limited success by marketing itself as the vendor that cares more about users than rival Microsoft.
Lotus officials said they added more than 100 features to the new version of SmartSuite, which they expect will be available in June.
Users said they liked some of the performance improvements.
"The big thing is that all my serious gripes about WordPro are now gone," said John Head, technical director at Artron Products, a software developer. "Performance features that were missing, plus programmability and customisability are there. I like it to work the way I want, not the way it wants."
The only new application in the suite helps end users convert and send Office documents to World Wide Web servers to alleviate the load on company Webmasters.