I didn't get a chance to cover this announcement from yesterday due to a bit of a 24-hour-bug....

IBM has a new open client offering that runs on Linux, Microsoft Windows and, later this year, the Apple Macintosh, and which is supported by services from IBM, Red Hat and Novell. ...

"This is a cross-platform, open-client offering that is built on top of the Eclipse rich client platform. It combines a number of recently announced Lotus products, such as Notes and Sametime, as well as services," Adam Jollans, IBM's worldwide open-source strategy manager, told eWEEK. ...

The goal is to offer choice to customers, such as those who are already using Lotus Notes, Domino or Sametime, but also have a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement. Many of them are currently weighing a move to  Windows Vista and Office 2007 and looking at all the associated costs.
While a lot of the wording around this announcement is directed at Linux, the real story here is that IBM is able to offer a consistent set of capabilities to all users within an organization, regardless of desktop operating system choice.  The offering also is set up to help organizations provide different services and capabilities to different user profiles within an organization.

What's important about this announcement is how it demonstrates the overall IBM, and marketplace, commitment to the Lotus portfolio.  The open client solution announced is about Lotus Notes, Sametime, Expeditor, and WebSphere Portal.  It has the support of Red Hat and Novell from the outset.  It leverages open standards and platforms where possible -- things like Eclipse as the base client infrastructure, ODF as the document editor file format, and full support for Firefox as a browser.

So what's not to like?  The boo birds from Redmond came out in force yesterday, already damaged in this arena by last week's Open XML drubbing.  Microsoft Watch quotes Microsoft's Bill Hilf:
"I don't really see what's new and 'open' here. This seems to be a proprietary software 'recycle' strategy trying to breathe life back into Lotus," he said. ..."If they [IBM] are concerned about lowering the cost of computing, why not help their customers get off the mainframe which is four to five orders of magnitude more expensive than anything offered on x86," he said.
Actually, most IBM customers running mainframes today do so because of reliability, scalability, and, in fact, lower overall operational costs.  His quip might have sounded clever back when Stuart Alsop declared the mainframe dead in 1991, but years later, it just sounds uneducated (and even Stuart eventually ate those words).  As for breathing life back into Lotus, I think there's every indication that that mission has already been accomplished -- Burton Group, Gartner, Redmonk, Ferris Research, Osterman Research, Robert Frances Group, and many others seem to have said so in the last few weeks alone.

One other funny thing that I saw mentioned in a few places about this -- IBM release doesn't specify a single price tag for this offering.  That's because IBM offers choice -- this isn't a "one size fits all" offering.  It can't be and it shouldn't be.  In fact, everything about this announcement is about choice -- a word that simply doesn't exist in Microsoft's vocabulary.

Link: eWeek: IBM unveils its latest open client offering >

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