In building my "History of Notes" presentation for today's e-Office event, one thing that struck me is how inconsistent Lotus has been about adding incremental features to Notes releases.  It's an issue I'm thinking about a lot not just because of the past, but because of the future.

According to the History of Lotus Notes, the very first Notes release established the precedent of adding features in point releases.  Notes 1.1 added features to 1.0.  But that wasn't really true in R2 or R3 (OK, the Mac clent was introduced in a later 3.x release), it was true in R4, it wasn't true in R5 (though 5.0.2, 5.0.5, and 5.0.8 looked suspiciously like feature releases), it was true in Notes 6, and it was sort of true in Notes 7 / 7.0.2.  I don't know yet whether it will be true for Notes "Hannover".

I think Notes has been penalized in market when feature releases were few and far between, or when they snuck out of the lab as maintenance releases (such as the iNotes Web Access first ship, which many customers didn't even notice until they installed their first Domino 6 server.  I'm still holding my "I told you so" card on that one).  The market goes "dark", innovation decelerates, and opportunities are missed.  

On the other hand, many large Notes customers say that they won't deploy every upgrade or new feature release...that in a given cycle they will only test and standardize on one MR or fixpack or code drop and that is the end of that.  

I am just wondering if that mindset is the norm or vocal exception.  And whether it is going to continue to be going forward.  

It's a tough challenge.  Say a new release comes along and a few cool features didn't quite make it.  Does the world wait for new release "+1" or expect it sooner?  Will they deploy a new release if there is a +1 waiting in the wings?

I often hear that the key issue related to upgrades is end-user retraining.  But in the inevitable comparisons to the "Web 2.0" world, nobody defers upgrade when the latest version of gmail is rolled out by Google.  On the other hand, I am seeing more traditional software upgrade methodology creep into those supposedly-nimble Web 2.0 providers -- Blogger, for example, is sitting on a beta of a new version, and even something as simple as Yahoo Photos is still phasing in their upgrade (which, as a free service, looks oddly like their flickr paid-for service, but that's another story).

I don't know if this is just one of those double-edged sword types of situations, where you can't please all of the people all of the time.  But in an IT world where budgets for upgrades are constantly challenged, while vendors are constantly finding ways to deliver innovation, what's the solution?

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