It's come to something when Bill Gates is quoted approvingly on a Lotus press release.
But that's what happened last week when Lotus announced it is to bundle Internet Explorer with Notes and SmartSuite - without similarly bundling Netscape's rival Communicator browser.
If you can't remember when Gates last went on the record saying nice things about Notes, don't worry. It's because he hasn't. It's a far cry from the heady days of the eighties, when Microsoft's unofficial corporate slogan was said to be "DOS ain't done till Lotus won't run".
Don't be fooled by the warm words and posturing, though. The cosying up of the two companies is merely a charade. Gates is only trying to garner yet more support for the NT platform, and both companies want to shaft Netscape.
If Lotus bundles arch-rival Microsoft's web browser without entering a similar deal with Netscape, there could be serious repercussions for the latter. The company may still have dominance in the browser market, but that position is being gradually eroded by Microsoft. Can Netscape afford to have major vendors like Lotus shipping copies of Microsoft software without grabbing a piece of that market for itself?
As ever, the real issue is not the browser at all. Lotus' deal with Microsoft means its products will have closer integration at the back end with Microsoft server products such as IIS (Internet Information Server), giving those two players a slightly improved proposition in the web server market.
But even that is not of primary importance. The real point is that it marks a shift in focus in the industry.
Lotus and Netscape are natural allies against Microsoft, and have behaved as such in the past. But now Netscape is threatening Lotus on its home ground with its increased focus on the groupware market. As Netscape grows too big for its boots, it can hardly avoid treading on someone's toes.
Lotus' announcement that it is going ahead with the bundling of IE without doing the same with Communicator is either a clear indication that the company has ditched any friendship with Netscape, or that it is giving the company one last chance to renegotiate the terms of a bundling deal.
This would probably involve breaking the Navigator browser out of the Communicator package, which would placate Lotus by removing some features which potentially compete with its own products.
The next version of Notes ships in September. Netscape has until then to decide if it can really afford to go round making so many enemies.
Yeah, sorry about all that, simpers Zuckerberg
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