"Lotus Notes Home Edition" – my thoughts

The concept ofNotes@Home ({link} and {link}),or "Notes Home Edition" as I like to call it,is very interesting, and I think it would be a great way to increase the visibility of Notes. The people who initially would install it would probably be the more technical kind of users, some of them probably the same kind of users we see bashing Notes on /. and similar sites, basically because they haven’t seen the current version, or the product at all.

The second group I believe would install Notes Home Edition would be members of the Notes community. But not on their own systems, most of us probably already use Notes at work and at home. No, I think it would be family members and friends who would get it installed.
Last weekend I formatted my ex-father-in-law’s laptop and re-installed Windows on it for him. I also downloaded and installed Symphony. Would it not have been nice if I would been able to download a limited Notes client as well, so he would use "Notes 8 Home Edition" for his mail? I could have setup a mailbox on my server and given him access to Sametime (if I had a Sametime server).

I understand the issues Ed have with cost (there have to be some development/testing associated with creating a new client, even if it is built on an existing one). But initially make just an english language version, perhaps a spanish, french and german version as well. That should cover a large part of the western world. Start there first, before spending any more money.

The client need to be able to do the following:

  • access mail on a Domino server
  • download/syncronize with POP/IMAP mail

If there could be syncronisation with Gmail and perhaps Yahoo mail, that would be even better. I am sure the Gmail API is published somewhere….
There are many things that can be dropped from "Notes Home Edition", like activities, composite applications, etc. Make it a stripped down version with the most important features, and a few ones that "regular" users actually might use, like the RSS reader.

Also, in order to show the power of Notes, there should be some way to run either local applications, or even applications on a server. Here we have the tricky question, and it is related to licensing… How do IBM avoid a company from getting the free "Notes Home Edition" clients and using in the business? On the other hand, the Domino Express offering works on a honor system already.

I would love to setup a small server at home (or actually open up the one I have) and let my sister, her boyfriend, and some other friends use it for mail and some applications. I can also see consultants setting up a server for their clients, offering not only mail but also discussions, IM and some shared applications. Perhaps the blog template?

What about this:

  • Domino Enthusiast Edition – up to 25 (50?) clients/IDs allowed, all must be using Notes Home Edition, except the administrator who can use a full client. Also allow web access. This one should be free. Charge for support.
  • Domino Consultant Edition [1] – up to 25 (50?) clients/IDs allowed, can be a mix of full client and Home Edition. Webaccess is also allowed. This one could cost a little bit, say $200 or something, with support extra. Must be able to purchase it directly from IBM online, since business partners probably won’t bother about selling it for that price.

The Consultant Edition would however be a great tool for small consultants to get Domino in the door at some clients. They can use the Notes client for free for a while, access mail and a few simple applications, perhaps even a custom built application by the consultant. When they are ready to jump to hosting their own server, they are already used to Notes, and "locked in" to the Notes application they use. Another win for Lotus.

[1] Someone in marketing can surely come up with a better name. "IBM Lotus Domino Restricted Commercial Version with Collaboration and Instant Messaging for Small Businesses"? 😉


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