Please note that this entry is "post-dated" in order to stay at the top of the blog on Friday...watch below for news coverage and whatever else comes along today.

Image:Lotus Notes and Domino 8 now shipping   Image:Lotus Notes and Domino 8 now shipping

It has been more than two years since Notes "Hannover" was announced at the Deutsche Notes Users Group in Hannover, Germany.  Finally, the day has arrived that so many of us -- at IBM, business partners, customers -- have been waiting for.

Not everything I wrote then has come to fruition in today's product release, but it's remarkably accurate in terms of promises delivered.  Notes 8 represents a major step forward for the Notes client -- what I've been telling the press this week is the most important release of Notes in about a decade's time.  Notes 8 addresses near-term needs and provides long-term vision.  Notes and Domino 8 deliver some new and incredibly powerful capabilities, all while respecting core tenets about compatibility, customer control, and business value.  

There's tons of new content on ibm.com/lotus.  Much of it started showing up on Tuesday, when the channel announcement hit.  You can get to it all through http://ibm.com/lotus/notesanddomino or the existing http://ibm.com/lotus/getnd8now.  Alan Lepofsky has started a Notes/Domino 8 resources page on his blog.  developerWorks is publishing new articles, such as Susan Bulloch's deep-dive on Notes 8 mail recall.  And there will be more in the weeks and months ahead.  I'll be sure to highlight it all in subsequent blog entries.

In a press interview I did on Thursday, the reporter asked me about my personal goals and hopes for this new release.  The question was very interesting, because it appealed to my paternal instincts as much as any leadership or sales executive thoughts.  In some ways, thinking about a major product release like a birth is a tired analogy.  But that didn't stop the guys at Comporium from throwing Notes 8 a birthday party, or a former colleague from e-mailing me at 12:20 AM to say that he could see the part numbers in Passport Advantage.

In some ways, "Hannover" and I have already accomplished some of those personal goals and hopes.  At the time "Hannover" was conceived, the Notes business was at a relative nadir.  Lotus was putting out mixed or confused messages about the commitment to Notes.  Competitive pressure was high (not that it has ever stopped), but there was also damage we were doing to ourselves.  I don't think many realize how important the decisions that Ambuj Goyal and other IBM executives made back in 2004-2005 were to saving Lotus Notes.  

I took this job in August, 2004, to be part of the rebuilding mission.  And we've grown the Notes business substantially in those three years: financially, but also, just as important -- strategically.  Knowing that not only was there "a" future for Notes, but a future with a long-term vision, was exactly what the market needed in June, 2005 when we made the unorthodox decision to announce the subsequent version of Notes prior to shipping Notes/Domino 7.  In each fiscal quarter since, IBM has publicly reported year-to-year revenue growth for Notes/Domino...cumulatively, a very significant percentage.  This in a market that was seen as mature, and with a product that pundits love to declare, well, you know.

The other thing that has already been accomplished is confidence.  I sense the pride amongst the hundreds of Loti who built Notes/Domino 8, from the architects and coders to the sales and marketing teams to the support and services organizations and the operations and international staff.  There has been excitement throughout this project -- visible to you through Mary Beth Raven's weblog, Jan Kenney's forum postings, and Ron Sebastian's YouTube video.

And the community is spirited, too. Three years ago, who would have expected two people in Ireland to be able to sell out a Notes user group meeting, days after announcement?  That Lotusphere would grow back near pre-9/11 attendance numbers?  That there would be hundreds of bloggers writing about a set of 17-year-old products?  You all have made significant contributions to the success Notes and Domino have today.  One of those Irishmen, Mr. Mooney, noted this during the blogger birds-of-a-feather at Lotusphere this year...that we all as a community no longer needed to act as if we were isolated, defensive, constantly under siege.  With a growing market and an exciting future, there was no longer a need to be wary.

So what did I tell that reporter as for personal goals and hopes on the road ahead?  My main goals are two-fold.  

One, I believe that we need to leverage the great usability work that has gone into Notes 8 and spread that message as far and as quickly as possible.  It does no one any good to have a shiny new release of Notes, the first one designed with "users first", when there are journalists still running the R5 mail template and (understandably) hating it.  IBM will, for the first time in many years, be taking Notes 8 marketing messages to the end-user.  But we collectively need your help as well.  Users that are unhappy with Notes need to know that their issues have been addressed, whether they can be first on the upgrade list or it will take three years.  Lunch and learns, internal marketing, and pilot users are all ways to help the market overall.  I'm sure there will be lots more brainstorming and success stories in the blogosphere...I'm looking forward to Gregg and Tom providing some of those ideas, for example.

Two, in the long term, Notes 8 has to deliver on the transition from pure Notes/Domino applications to composite applications/mashups, and the value of Eclipse.  In ten years, it will simply be impossible to recruit new Lotuscript developers to build for a single client/server product.  Notes 8 can and will deliver much more value to organizations on top of what they already do with Notes today.  It will take time for this expanded role for Notes to mainstream, but it is critical to the future success of the product.  This single decision about the Notes 8 architecture is more important for that long-term than anything else being delivered in Notes 8.

I'm also really excited to see what happens now that the productivity editors are in the wild, that Open Document Format is available to millions as a supported product in their IT environments, and that users are moving beyond e-mail to the overall notion of contextual collaboration.  This is going to be exciting to watch.

Today, release day, there are way too many people to congratulate and thank for their efforts to make Notes and Domino 8 a successful release.  I want to name names, but I am desperately afraid I will forget some important people.  Most importantly, I want to thank you, the Notes community, for your commitment, belief, encouragement, and criticism over the last three years.  At this moment, I can't help but know, way deep down in my heart, we couldn't have done it without you.

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