The release of Notes 8 prompts InfoWorld's editor-at-large to ponder the future of e-mail clients:

With IBMs launch earlier this month of Lotus Notes 8 and this week's unveiling of Lotus SameTime Version 8, industry analysts say we are beginning to see the evolution of the e-mail client from a communications tool into a coordination channel. And when that happens, IBM may be in the unprecedented position of getting a second chance at knocking off longtime market leader Microsoft Outlook. ...

Whatever the numbers, most industry analysts are now saying that with this version of Notes is finally on par and competitive with Outlook 2007.

By including Open Office, the ODF (Open Document Format) open source desktop productivity suite, IBM is giving companies an unexpected bonus.

"If I put Notes 8 on a desktop and want to include a spreadsheet in an e-mail, with Open Office I don't have to make sure all the receivers have Excel," says Karen Hobert, senior analyst at Burton Group.

But where will the arch e-mail rivals be in five years? A lot depends on how e-mail evolves, Hobert says.

In five years, we will still call it e-mail -- but only because it is hard to get people to change nomenclature, Hobert says. Nevertheless, business users will be working with e-mail in a very different way than they do today.

Link: InfoWorld: E-mail's future, pumped look >

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