So while we're here in Karlsruhe, Microsoft has their own conference in progress, covering SharePoint.  Bill Gates spoke yesterday, covering a number of interesting topics.  The speech transcript has been posted, including the Q&A (where he was joined by Kurt DelBene).  Some very interesting thoughts, especially in the Q&A (emphasis mine):

Question: Speaking of that, what is your current view about Lotus Notes and the current Workplace initiatives that IBM is coming out with?

BILL GATES: Okay. Well, I'm not exactly unbiased on this subject. (Laughter.)

... IBM, other than the work that Ray Ozzie did when he was at Iris connected with Lotus, their center of gravity has very much been more in terms of IT or corporate development. And there's nothing wrong with that, those are important constituencies, we have to understand their needs, but particularly as the original team at Iris disappeared, they've really gone back to not so much thinking about productivity software, they haven't done anything new there. Workplace, I don't know of any substantial use of Workplace that's out there, and that's before the Office 2007 system comes up.

We have done something where we've said that as you think about Notes and you compare that to Microsoft, don't just think about Exchange. Exchange has a release -- I think of it as Exchange 12, but I guess it's Exchange 2007 that's timed at the same time as Office 2007, very powerful release. In fact, we had a conference focused on that as well, and it connects up to these other things.

So for messaging that is the best system, but we never turned Exchange into a collaboration platform. We had some shared folder things and stuff like that. SharePoint is clearly our collaboration platform, and it's more mainstream because it's just taking all the standards of the Web and the browser access and just building on top of those.

And so we've been very lucky that as IBM has had a discontinuity, that they're saying, well, your Notes applications aren't going to continue to run, we want you to move to a new environment, which is some WebSphere type thing, people have had to step back and say, okay, it's not the best messaging system, Exchange has been totally focused on those scenarios, and it's not the best collaboration platform because it's sort of stuck as a pretty good messaging platform and a pretty good collaboration platform.

And so we have had a lot of very strong migration. Getting corporations to do it was hard because they'll have a lot of Notes applications and we have partners that have learned how to help with the migration or show them how to let some of those stay in place and still have the integration that those people want.
So on the same day when Mike Rhodin said, "If Notes applications don´t run in Hannover, it´s a bug", Bill Gates said that IBM is "saying Notes applications aren't going to continue to run".  

I know that some accuse me of being stuck on the same old same old "Lotus is great, Microsoft sucks" point, but when you see a quote like that, it's impossible not to get a bit defensive.  Many many people will believe what Gates said because he is Gates.  There's no changing that in the computer industry.  Unfortunately.  But let's be clear: Lotus Notes "Hannover" signals the next 15 years of Notes innovation, on an open platform,  with embedded productivity tools and complete support for all existing Notes applications.

At least Mr. Gates threw out a couple of softballs, too, including the admission that Exchange was never a collaboration platform (despite how many tries?).  Then there was this:
You're absolutely right that in terms of programming things, backing things up, it would be much better if we could get things into a single structure, and so the Exchange and SQL group have been working on that, and down further in the roadmap Exchange will be built entirely on SQL.
It's like déjà vu all over again, because what Gates says here is almost exactly what Microsoft said about SQL as the unified store back in 2000.  The more things change...

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