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The company is keen to overcome the perception that it is lagging behind in the corporate messaging market, and is positioning the new release as a lightweight but secure messaging tool for workers who do not sit at a desk all day, such as healthcare professionals, teachers and students.
The strategy does make sense, said Michael Osterman, an analyst at Osterman Research. "That's really where you're going to see the expansion of messaging," he added.
The upgraded Novell NetMail 3.1 software, which was called Novell Internet Messaging System in previous releases, was announced earlier this month at the company's BrainShare Europe user conference.
Novell is adding support for Windows NT and Windows 2000 servers as part of the new release.
IBM's Lotus Software Group subsidiary and Microsoft are market leaders in messaging. Both support Web-based e-mail but Osterman said that neither company offered a behind-the-firewall, thin-client tool like NetMail.
Users of earlier NetMail releases said it is less expensive and easier to administer than enterprise-level products such as Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Notes and Domino, and Novell's own GroupWise software.
NetMail offers the messaging basics, they said, including server software that manages a mailbox from which users can send and receive messages, plus a calendar and an address book.
Another potential selling point for Novell is its product's ability to manage user identities from a central directory.
One user organisation and airline, said the use of Novell's eDirectory software to link employee identities in the company's messaging system with those in its human resources database was another key factor in the decision to go with NetMail. Changes made in the human resources system automatically trigger actions in the e-mail account.