Lotus has revealed details of its forthcoming version of SmartSuite, currently trailing way behind Microsoft Office in the office suite market.
SmartSuite 97, now in beta, is scheduled to ship in its final version in late November or early December, meaning it will hit the streets before Office 97. The price will be #115 for upgrades, though the price for new users has not been set. Lotus is aiming at a street price around a third lower than Microsoft Office.
"Our goal with SmartSuite 97 is to be the leader in business productivity software in network-centric computing," declared Jim Moffat, product manager at Lotus UK. Lotus currently holds about 7% market share by revenue, compared to Microsoft's 84%, according to Q2 1996 figures from Dataquest.
SmartSuite 97 will be completely 32-bit, and will have full NT 4.0 and Windows 95 support. An OS/2 version will follow a few months later.
With the new version, the focus is firmly on the Internet and intranet.
Features include HTML generation, letting users publish documents direct to the Web; the ability to create hypertext links through a dialogue box; links to Web sites from the on-line help; and greater connectivity for intranet users. "This is suite software for the connected worker," said Moffat.
Other features are aimed mainly at increasing productivity, such as a dynamic print preview feature, an auto total feature in 1-2-3 that lets users simply type in 'total' to add up all the figures in a specified area, and desktop access to the dictionary or thesaurus, without having to fire up WordPro.
Lotus' relationship with its parent of 18 months, IBM, has also paid off. The company claims SmartSuite 97 will integrate better with legacy systems, providing easy access to IBM DB2 and QMF.
Companies now acting as OEMs for Lotus by bundling SmartSuite with their hardware, include IBM, Acer, AST and Fujitsu ICL. The company claims to have 20 million users worldwide, including British Gas and British Steel.
This upgrade isn't as flashy as Microsoft's Office 97, which has gimmicky extras such as the animated on-line help characters and Intellimouse.
But like Office, SmartSuite has Web publishing features to fit in with the new Internet paradigm, and a variety of productivity improvements.
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