Lotus has launched the latest version of its SmartSuite office productivity package in the UK. SmartSuite Millennium Edition boasts new Internet features, voice-recognition software and integration with the company's new Java-based eSuite office package.
The software is Lotus' attempt to wrest back market share from Microsoft whose MS Office has a 90% stranglehold, according to Romtec. With Office 2000 looming on the horizon, Lotus has to convince users that SmartSuite offers a comparable set of features - without having to wait around for six months.
Millennium Edition adds a new FastSite Internet publishing tool to the traditional components, such as the 1-2-3 spreadsheet, Word Pro, Freelance Graphics, Approach database and Organiser PIM. FastSite allows multiple users to publish directly onto an intranet, freeing up the Webmaster to perform site management tasks. It also lets users batch-convert documents stored in multiple formats (including MS Word) into HTML.
Lotus has tightly integrated IBM's ViaVoice Gold speech recognition software into Word Pro and 1-2-3, which support seven languages, and a noise-cancelling microphone is supplied. ViaVoice will allow users to dictate into Word Pro documents or 1-2-3 and requires a minimum 150MHz Pentium processor with MMX.
At the heart of the suite is SmartCenter which acts as a staging point for all the other applications, and now features an Internet Drawer - a bookmarking facility to schedule the download of sites for offline viewing.
SmartCenter will also feature Internet news, weather and stock quotes, as well as a calendar. Another clever tool is Web Tables which allows users to capture data from Web sites for inclusion in 1-2-3 spreadsheets.
Realising that it has to tempt users to switch allegiance, Lotus offers support for all MS Office formats. Documents can even be saved to XML-compliant HTML, a feature also touted by Microsoft as a key offering within Office 2000. Users can also choose to have menus that mimic those of MS Office.
SmartSuite Millennium Edition is available now for #349 or for #149 as an upgrade. The upgrade price also applies when upgrading from any competitive suite or application.
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