If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Corel take heart.
Lotus has announced it is to rewrite its office suite in Java, leaving Microsoft as the only major suite vendor without a Java strategy.
The new version of Lotus SmartSuite in Java should be available in the first half of next year. Corel released a beta version of its Java suite, codenamed Joffice, last week and plans to ship the product by the end of the year.
Like Corel's Joffice, Lotus' Java release of SmartSuite is designed mainly for use on the NC platform. Accordingly, it will offer less functionality than current versions of the suite, because Lotus reckons thin client users will have a lower set of requirements. It will also cost less, though final pricing has not been set.
Lotus claimed its Java development effort, which it is carrying out in conjunction with parent IBM, is the largest of any software vendor.
But Inteco analyst Mike Welch branded Lotus' plans as "a last ditch effort" to beat Microsoft. "This is a me-too attempt on Lotus' part to look as if it's doing something, instead of just giving up and saying Microsoft won, even though people know Microsoft did win."
Microsoft could not be reached for comment on its rival's move, but has previously discounted the idea of going down the Java route.
For the first time Oracle last week confirmed its intention of joining the band of Java office suite vendors with a cut-down suite, codenamed HatTrick. This will rival the Java version of SmartSuite. It will offer wordprocessing, spreadsheet and graphical presentation functions and run on any platform supporting the Java virtual machine. It will ship in the first or second quarter of next year.
It's not at all surprising that Lotus is following fellow underdog Corel on the road to Java. There isn't really anywhere else to go. The only possible danger Lotus' plan may pose to Microsoft is if the thin client idea really does take off. Then, the giant could find itself outflanked by dwarf versions of rival suites. Although Microsoft has officially denied any notion of rewriting Office in Java, it's not beyond belief that somewhere tucked away in the Redmond campus there's a development team working on it right now - just in case.
Lotus: explaining the name game
Lotus has published US pricing and a name change for release 4.5 of Notes server. The product, and future releases, will be known as Lotus Domino 4.5 Powered by Notes. The client will continue to be called a Notes client. The change is an attempt to get away from people's perception of Notes as a proprietary groupware system, and to reposition the product for the Internet. UK pricing for Domino 4.5, set to ship by the end of the year, has not yet been set. US pricing, effective from January 1997, is as follows:
US space agency believes the crater could have preserved ancient organic molecules from the water that flowed there billions of years ago
Valve quietly closes down hardware initiatives launched following Windows 8
Scientists create a virtual reality simulation of a black hole sitting at the centre of the Milky Way
Simulations like this can help people understand complicated systems in the universe in a better way
The most luminous galaxy ever discovered is cannibalising at least three of its smaller neighbours, study finds
The galaxy radiates at 350 trillion times the luminosity of the Sun