IBM ripening Notes features for Apple Macintosh

Expanded capabilities will include an increased Mac look and feel

ORLANDO -- IBM's Lotus Development Corp. unit has offered its Lotus Notes collaboration application for Apple Computer Inc.'s Macintosh hardware for years, but the software never included the depth of features available to Microsoft Windows users -- and it lacked much of the familiar Mac desktop look and feel.

Those shortcomings, however, may soon be history.

IBM yesterday announced a major shift in its Notes for Mac strategy by unveiling plans here at the Lotusphere 2006 conference for a vastly improved Mac version.

Kevin Cavanaugh, vice president of development for Lotus clients, solutions and tools in IBM's Software Group, said the updates are coming later this year because IBM sees a need. "We have sort of let Mac versions slip, so we're fixing that," he said.

Version 7.02 of Notes for the Mac, slated for release in the third quarter of this year, will include integrated Lotus Sametime instant messaging and support for Macintosh computers that run on Intel Corp. chips (see "It's official: Apple shifting to Intel chips"). Notes 7.02 for the Mac will run on Mac OS X 10.4 "Tiger" operating system.

While Macintosh users still trail Windows users by a wide margin in corporate computing, they remain a force at companies' creative, design and production teams -- and a potential source of substantial revenue. As a result, Lotus decided to make its Notes for the Mac offering more useful and feature-rich, Cavanaugh said.

"We're committed to it," he said of the Notes Mac version. "We're going to be consistent across Mac, Windows and Linux in functionality and releases."

Also announced is new Mac support for Domino Web Access, IBM's browser-based messaging client, using The Mozilla Foundation's Firefox browser. Those features are also slated for the third quarter of the year.

One dedicated Mac supporter, Vijay Sonty, CIO of the Broward County Public Schools in Sunrise, Fla., said the move to improve Notes on the Mac is a big deal for the 275,000 students, 19,000 teachers and 231 schools that his department supports. The district is the sixth largest in the nation, he said, with a $200 million technology budget that includes $100 million for IT.

"This is a step in the right direction," Sonty said of the Mac on Notes improvements. "IBM is recognizing that there is a market for other operating systems. This gives IBM hooks into the consumer market."

For users, Sonty said, the improved Notes offering will enrich collaboration and communications with other users, regardless of their operating systems. "Lotus and Domino are the first step, and we'll see true compatibility between what IBM offers on the Windows side and on the Mac side," he said. "Now IBM has really opened it up."

Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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