Notes 7 will focus on collaboration tools and workplace.
Instant messaging (IM) and collaboration will be crucial to the forthcoming version of IBM Lotus Notes, which is due out by the end of August.
To make its software more appealing to end users, IBM is busy integrating future versions of Notes with its Workplace platform, which is based on Java and IBM WebSphere technologies and adding IM.
The next version of Notes and Domino will be version 7, replacing 6.5.4. Darren Adams, IBM technical specialist for Lotus messaging and collaboration solutions, said the user interface has been updated, but there are few radical changes.
"We are evolving it, not revolutionising it," he said
The most significant changes are to the IM features, which will have "multi-threading" - that is the ability to see multiple IM messages more easily. Users will be able to save IM transcripts into the Notes mailbox, for text searching, and will be able to encrypt IM sessions.
There are more Lotus Sametime tools, enabling users to switch an IM session to video or audio real-time collaboration. In addition, the 'buddy list' has been improved, so end users can bring up a list of the people they commonly work with from within applications, to see who is online.
IBM is saving the big changes for the 2007 version of Notes, which has been code-named Hannover, or Notes 7.x.
This will be a collaboration platform based on the IBM Workplace collaboration framework, where end-users can access critical information from within the e-mail client, or contact other users via presence-based systems, and share documents and data through a number of avenues, such as e-mail (via Notes), the collaboration platform itself (via Workplace), web-based team workplaces (via Quickplace) or an IM platform, Sametime.
Forrester Research senior analyst Erica Rugullies said, "Notes 7 looks similar enough to Notes 6.5 that most organisations will not need to budget more than usual for user training.
But Hannover will present significant changes in look and behaviour, so IT organisations should plan to increase Notes user training budgets when they roll out Hannover."