Microsoft blurring Outlook for iNotes users

You may have missed Lotusphere, but hopefully you haven't missed the feud between Microsoft and Lotus over Lotus' iNotes Access for Microsoft Outlook.

Lotus and Microsoft announced at last year's conference that Lotus will ship Domino Release 5.0.5 with iNotes for Outlook, which allows administrators to migrate from Microsoft Exchange Server to Lotus Domino Server without disrupting service to Outlook users. Administrators to-date have been able to connect Outlook users to Domino servers, but only by installing full versions of the Notes client on their PCs; even then, the setup curbed some of the Outlook users' messaging capabilities. (Lotus is now distributing a 90-day trial version of Domino R5.0.5, with iNotes for Outlook, through its Web site.)

But this year, Lotus and Microsoft are in a bitter dispute over Domino's suitability for Outlook users. In a testy memorandum (see link, below), Lotus responds to the list of "things to consider with iNotes," a note it claims Microsoft sent to a potential Lotus customer.

Microsoft insists the Domino/Outlook combination "gives you no collaboration features," and offers weak support for streaming media and unified messaging. Lotus, meanwhile, says Microsoft's argument is rife with "many erroneous statements and misrepresentations."

Lotus acknowledges that administrators will need "a strong understanding of Domino Off-Line Services [DOLS]" to set-up the application. But Lotus says it needs DOLS, which allows users to access Domino Web applications without a network connection, to extend off-line support to Outlook users. Microsoft also suggests that DOLS makes iNotes too cumbersome to install, while Lotus avows that the Domino server will download, install and configure DOLS automatically.

Microsoft senior vice president Steve Sinofsky last year joined in Lotus' iNotes for Outlook announcement. Is Microsoft withdrawing its blessing for a product that it helped build? searchDomino will let you know in next week's Executive Briefing tip.

Meanwhile, you might want to read about DOLS (pronounced dolls) at http://www.lotus.com/home.nsf/welcome/offlineservices. A March 2000 whitepaper describes how DOLS uses Domino's replication and security features to synchronize users' off-line work to the server each time they reconnect. And Lotus solutions architect Bruce Hitchcock details DOLS' capabilities in his fall 2000 paper, Domino Off-Line Services: An Administrator's and Developer's Guide.

Be sure to read Lotus' "Microsoft Exchange Reality Check" at http://www.lotus.com/home.nsf/welcome/inotes, and read the January 2001 whitepaper Lotus has written for iNotes for Outlook administrators.

And visit http://www.notes.net to see live demos of DOLS and Lotus' Web browser-based client for Notes, iNotes Web Access (The beta version of iNotes Web Access is also available for download.)

Finally, check out our Best Domino Web Links for iNotes users, at http://searchdomino.techtarget.com/searchDomino_Editors_Picks_Page/0,1388,1e8,00.html, where you'll find links to reviews of iNotes software, like DominoPower Magazine's rave for iNotes Web Access.

Mark Baard is a contributing writer in Milton, Mass.

This was first published in February 2001

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