Lotus Web client is delayed until next year

Network World |  Software

CAMBRIDGE, MASS. -- Lotus users longing for a browser-based client that supports Notes replication will have to wait a while longer.

In January, Lotus promised a midyear ship date for iNotes Web Access, which gives a standard browser the ability to work offline with Web-based Domino applications or e-mail and then replicate changes with a Domino server.

This week Lotus will announce iNotes Web Access is in beta testing and won't ship until the first quarter next year. The iNotes Access for Outlook client shipped earlier this month with Domino 5.0.5. These clients represent the firm's answer to customer demand for replication in clients beyond the bulky Lotus Notes.

Replication is a distinguishing feature of Domino but has only been available in a full Notes client.

IT managers want the browser-based client because it will reduce setup and management. This means Notes clients won't have to be installed at each desktop. The iNotes client software can be pushed out over a network to any user with a browser.

"Lotus is going to deliver what it promised, but Notes users will have to wait longer to get rich browser access to Domino functionality," says Jim Kobielus, an analyst with The Burton Group in Midvale, Utah.

The iNotes Web Access client is a replacement for Lotus' WebMail client, which supports offline access but only to e-mail. The iNotes client will add offline support for calendars and to-do lists. Users will need to be running Domino 5.0.3 or higher to support the iNotes clients.

"We are striving to deliver parity for messaging and other functions [within the clients]," says Jeanette Medlin, a Lotus marketing official. But Medlin says iNotes is not designed to replace the Notes client.

Users will not automatically get offline access to Domino applications with the iNotes clients. Those applications will need to be re-engineered using Domino Off-Line Services (DOLS) to support iNotes.

DOLS is basically a tool kit that lets subsets of Notes client code, such as Java, Messaging API, security, database and replication services, be packaged and installed on browsers and within Outlook. The tool kit was used to build the iNotes clients.

The beta-test version of iNotes Web Access is available this week and supports Internet Explorer 5.X and Netscape 4.7 running on a Win32 platform.

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