Lotus Notes 8.5's new social computing features integrate with Internet calendars.
One of the things that you notice when you attend a presentation by IBM's Scott Handy is that his laptop of choice is a Mac.
You don't get a chance to digest this fact on your own because Handy tells you straight out that it's his slide presentation and he prefers that it not get screwed up, so he's choosing to deliver it on an Apple MacBook. You sit there wondering what must have happened to this guy long ago and far away that he so wants his laptop to make it through to the very last slide. What's the matter with him that he can't take his lumps like everyone else and have the blue screen of death occasionally interrupt what otherwise would have been a fine presentation? Being the vice president of worldwide marketing and strategy for IBM Power Systems must get to a guy.
But there are a lot of Apple enthusiasts at IBM, including former IBM i Chief Scientist Frank Soltis. It's in the architecture, you see. As Apple says in its literature about why people buy a Mac: "If you spend more time trying to get your computer to work and less time doing what you want, it's time to get a Mac. Because Apple makes both the software and the hardware, everything works together, just as it should." Of course, the same can be said about IBM Power Systems, which is one of the gratifying things about the platform.
Handy, it turns out, was technical assistant to the general manager of the AIM Alliance (Apple, IBM, and Motorola), which was the genesis of the PowerPC chip utilized by Apple until 2006. PowerPC of course is now the cornerstone of the Power Systems machines.
The angle here is that Macworld has been going on all week in San Francisco, and IBM took the opportunity to announce Lotus Notes 8.5 for the Mac OS X Leopard-powered computers. Additionally, IBM Lotus Symphony will be available for the Mac later this month. You have to hand it to the folks in China who are working on Symphony. They are making it practically ubiquitous and capable of running on nearly every major platform (hey, what about Sun?). The nice thing about Symphony is that, if you happen to be running Lotus Notes, there are a lot of integration points now between the two, and Symphony ships with the latest version of Notes. Since more than 140 million licenses for Lotus Notes and Domino have been sold since their inception--the platform is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2009 by the way--there is a huge market for Symphony. Perhaps "market" is the wrong term, since it's still free.
What IBM Lotus is touting now is the collaboration of Notes 8.5 with free calendaring applications like Google, Yahoo, and hundreds of other public Internet services. The trend in the workforce apparently is for people to be working while they're playing and playing while they're working, so you want to be able to check when your kid's soccer game is while you update your work meeting schedule. Lotus Notes 8.5 now allows people to blend their Internet calendar with their work calendar in a single view by checking a single box.
IBM also announced new Lotus iNotes R8.5. Though around since Release 5.0.8, many Lotus Notes users may have overlooked iNotes, the Web-based Lotus Notes implementation. Anyone with a Notes user license can access Notes through a Safari browser from anywhere in the world. Note that while Safari is Apple's browser, it is now also available for Windows and is said to be a lot faster than either Internet Explorer 7 or Firefox 2.
One of the benefits of iNotes is that you can access Lotus Domino-based applications--including email, calendaring, scheduling, and instant messaging--from anywhere that you can find an Internet connection. You simply don't need the--dare I say cumbersome?--Lotus Notes client software. On that point, and you should realize we use the incredibly reliable Lotus Notes here at MC Press Online, I thought it was humorous that Ron Okamoto, Apple's vice president of worldwide developer relations, used the Notes client resources issue as a backhand compliment to his Apple product line. The quote of the week: "The blazing speed of Apple's award-winning hardware combined with Mac OS X, the world's most advanced operating system, creates an ideal platform for collaboration software applications likes Notes." This guy should run for office! The social computing features of Notes 8.5 and the reduction in disk storage requirements it offers over previous versions can also lower costs for businesses.
Why are we interested in new Lotus Notes software on a MacBook? Well, when your next step up is Vista, you start thinking seriously about a Mac. And guys like Scott Handy and Frank Soltis could be giving us hints about something we may not have wanted to hear--before now.