IBM will today attempt to shore up Lotus Domino/Notes market share with a new release of the pioneering groupware program intended to save on storage, improve usability and fold in productivity applications.

CIO saw a draft press release concerning the 8.5 version and spoke briefly to Darren Adams, IBM messaging and collaboration business unit leader for the UK and Ireland.

In brief, here are some highlights:

The Windows, Mac or Linux client will include the Lotus Symphony suite that competes with Microsoft Office and IBM clearly hopes that the bleak economy could turn some users away from the Redmond juggernaut.

“It’s a long game and we don’t expect organisations to throw out Office overnight but the gaps in functionality aren’t always as great as people think,” Adams said, adding that he expects some organisations to deploy Symphony alongside Office, selecting between the pair by end-user needs.

Storing a single version of sent attachments on Domino servers dangles the prospect of significant storage gains. Adams said that one company had seen a 60 percent reduction and that a similar approach could in future be used for large graphics objects and other disk hogs.

The once much-maligned user interface has been tweaked again and now offers “a competitive client that looks every bit as good as Outlook”, Adams claimed.

Notes is also becoming a more holistic client with better support for social networking, instant messaging, team rooms, file sharing, VoIP conversations, web-based calendars and organising out-of-work activities.

For remote access, Domino Web Access has now been renamed (again) as iNotes and mobile clients can benefit from an iPhone-optimised interface.

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