IBM Throws Apple a Bone with Notes-Domino 8.5
January 13, 2009 Alex Woodie
It used to be that Mac users would have to wait a year or more to get the same version of Lotus Notes that Windows users had. But IBM changed that in one fell swoop last week when it unveiled Lotus Notes 8.5 at the Apple MacWorld expo in San Francisco and delivered functional parity between the Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux versions of Notes. Version 8.5 also introduces XPages, a much-anticipated new development tool, and various security and administrative upgrades.
IBM expressed some much-delayed love for Macintosh at last week’s MacWorld show. The initial release of Notes version 8 back in August 2007 did not support the Mac. In fact, one has to go back more than two years–to the release of Notes 7.0.2 back in October 2006–to find a new release of Lotus Notes for Mac OS X.
Supporting so-called “non-standard” computing platforms (i.e. anything but Windows or IBM’s penguin pet, the Linux) has always posed a challenge for IBM software developers. You will remember that support for DB2/400–the version of DB2 that underpins the AS/400-PowerSystems-i platform–was missing in action when Notes/Domino 8 shipped. Considering that the AS/400 has long been touted as the second most popular Domino platform (behind Windows, of course), the missing feature made one wonder whether IBM developers had customers’ best interests in mind. It should be noted, however, that the Domino 8.5 server supports i5/OS as well as Linux, Windows, AIX, and Solaris. For the System i customers this extends to software such as Lotus Sametime, Lotus Quickr, and Lotus Enterprise Integrator.
Only about 10 percent of Notes sales are on Mac, according to published reports of IBM comments. That constitutes a small minority of Notes users, and roughly mirrors the estimated worldwide Mac installed base of 3 to 16 percent of all PCs. But the number of Mac Notes customers is growing quickly, the IBMer said. And besides, putting Mac on a pedestal lets IBM dig into Microsoft, its main competitor in the e-mail and messaging market.
The elevation of the Mac OS X version of Lotus Notes to peer status was a reason for Mac fans around the world to celebrate. “Notes 8.5 has allowed our Mac users to make full use of a non-Microsoft environment with all the advances of the latest Notes functionality,” says Mark Calleran, the CIO for the international headquarters of The Salvation Army.
Ron Okamoto, vice president of worldwide developer relations for Apple, says Notes running on Mac OS X “creates an ideal platform for collaboration.” “We’re excited to see IBM’s continued commitment to the Mac platform with its latest release,” he says.
Later this month, IBM will also be delivering a version of Symphony that supports Mac OS X. Symphony is a Notes add-on for creating documents and spreadsheets that can be shared online.
For application developers who are taking advantage of an upgrade from pre-8.0.x Domino, the most anticipated feature in Domino 8.5 is Domino Designer, an Eclipse-based design tool that leverages a technology called XPages. This feature will basically let a developer update multiple documents, applications, or Web pages through a single design effort, thereby saving a terrific amount of time and money.
On the administrative front, users will only need a single password to access all Notes or Domino applications with the new Shared Logon feature, while the ID Vault should make it easier for administrators to access or reset forgotten passwords. The hardware side of the IT house will rejoice at a new feature called Domino Attachment and Object Service (DAOS), which is a fancy way of saying that only one copy of e-mail attachments will be stored on the server, thereby reclaiming gigabyte upon gigabyte of storage.
Notes/Domino 8.5 also brings support for calendar federation. This will allow Notes users to incorporate public calendars (such as Google Calendar) into their Notes calendar. For a Notes customer that also maintains a Google Calendar, they will now be able to view all their calendar items from Notes.
Mobile Notes users also get something to cheer about with the introduction of Lotus Notes Traveler 8.5, a smart phone application that gives Notes users access to e-mail, calendar, contacts, to-do lists, and folders. As IT Jungle first reported last month, the new release of Traveler adds support for Nokia‘s popular S60 mobile platform, bringing to two the number of smart phone platforms that Traveler supports (Microsoft’s Windows Mobile being the other one).
Lotus Notes/Domino 8.5 for Mac OS X is available now in English. It will become available for major European and Asian languages later this week. For more information, visit www-01.ibm.com/software/lotus.