Domino administrators seeking a standardized messaging client their remote users will embrace should look at Lotus iNotes Web Access, which gives Web users access to their Notes mail, calendars, schedules and to do lists. Infoworld Test Center analyst Lori Mitchell praises iNotes Web Access in her review of the beta product, code-named Shimmer: "Lotus has made many enhancements in functionality (over Lotus Webmail) including multiple attachments, rich editing capabilities, Lotus Sametime integration and offline support. (iNotes Web Access) provides collaboration features comparable to those of the Notes client's - without the user's having to carry around a client desktop. Nor is as much IT support required for maintaining clients."
But iNotes Web Access falls somewhat short of replacing Webmail, Lotus' first browser-based messaging client. "In the initial release of iNotes Web Access, there'll be a limited client platform set," concedes iNotes Web Access product manager Jason Dumont, in a recent Notes.net interview. (Notes.net is a Lotus site.)
"On the client side, it's going to be (Windows 32); with Internet Explorer 5.0 and above or Netscape 4.7 and above," Dumont says. "So Webmail will continue to exist, if only because of the platform limitations initially with iNotes Web Access." The beta version of iNotes Web Access only supports Explorer.
Dumont also promises to expand his product's server platform support: Lotus is scripting the first release to run on Windows NT Service Pack 4 and Windows 2000, but will accomodate Sun Solaris and IBM iSeries 400 in future versions.
Users will miss the discussion threads and some of the contact and document management features supported by Webmail. But it remains a leap forward for overall user functionality. iNotes Web Access includes "90-plus percent of the most-requested features that were not in Webmail - things like unread marks, spell check, out-of-office agent, unlimited attachment support, and a lot more," according to Dumont. "And our performance targets are well above the performance levels that folks have seen historically with Webmail."
Notes users familiar with Internet Explorer will require little training for iNotes Web Access. And the client's easy-to-use Web interface, says Infoworld's Mitchell, should ease the separation anxieties for users being weaned from Microsoft Outlook.
For more about iNotes Web Access and its capabilities, check out these links:
Product manager Jason Dumont and lead architect Vinod Seraphin discuss the tough trade-offs they had to make to build iNotes Web Access. "Often we implement certain features," Seraphin says, "and initially we might not consider how [they] might be done in a more efficient way." http://www.notes.net/today.nsf/8a6d147cf55a7fd385256658007aacf1/2946b17a240cfcbd8525698500648d4f?OpenDocument.
"Microsoft has missed the mark again on web-based messaging and collaboration," claims Lotus in this blistering attack on Microsoft Outlook Web Access. "A few of [its] deficiencies include limited functionality leading to lost productivity, lack of integration with the Outlook client, and poor performance in non-LAN environments." http://www.lotus.com/developers/itcentralnew.nsf/allpublic/4D349C0D15632709852569B500606146?opendocument.
"iNotes Web Access fills a gap in the current Lotus client product line...at a level of function and ease of use that's currently unmatched among the competition," writes Terrance Crow in this detailed walk-through of the product. http://www.advisor.com/Articles.nsf/aid/CROWT66.