By all accounts, the much-needed upgrade offers a modernized user interface for Notes as well as new usability tools and added capabilities, such as the ability to send instant messages from within the e-mail client via IBM's Sametime software.
The changes are the result of building the Version 8 client on top of the company's Eclipse-based rich-client platform, according to IBM officials.
Version 8 represents IBM's strategy to create client interfaces built on a common platform. This will allow components of any client application to be provisioned and managed centrally, said Barton Group analyst Karen Hobert.
For example, Notes 8 is built on the same programming model as Lotus Expeditor 6.1.1, which is based on open standards from Eclipse.org. The common framework becomes an open client for mashups and composite applications in addition to the traditional Notes features.
Although Notes 8 may not steal market share from Microsoft Corp.'s Outlook client, Hobert said the new release should more than satisfy current Notes users.
"It was a product that has been neglected for quite some time," said Hobert. "Now organizations that do have Notes mail can offer to their users an e-mail client that is on par with whatever else is out there."
Notes 8 offers users upgrades in three major areas: extensibility through plug-ins and composite applications; a new provisioning capability; and editing tools based on the Open Document Format for Office Applications for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations.
Because the framework is an open standard and Java-based, managers can also get at the controls to change menus based on usage models and to provision users by sending out a wrapped file that is easily opened on the client side.
Both Notes 8 and Domino 8 are shipping now. IBM said its suggested retail pricing starts at $101 per client for Notes 8 and $73 per user for the company's Domino Web Access software, a browser-based alternative to the full e-mail client.