By Mick Moignard
It's December, and thoughts in the Lotus community aren't just about Christmas. We're also looking forward to spending the last week of January 2006 in Orlando, Florida -- somewhere that, for most of us from the Northern Hemisphere, will hopefully be a bit warmer than where we are now. Certainly it will be for me, writing in a rather chilly UK, because a couple weeks back my house furnace quit, and it's real cold at home. So a warm Orlando looks very welcoming right now.
But Sphere 2006 will be more, more than just having the thermometer a bit further up the scale. There's a lot to look forward to.
First, of course, there's ND7, which shipped back in September. Nice that it was made available for download as soon as it was ready, before the CD sets were shipping, too. I imagine Mike Rhodin, presiding at his first Lotusphere as Lotus General Manager, will make play of the speed of customer uptake of ND7 compared with some other products we might name.
The first MU (Maintenance Updates), 7.0.1, is just around the corner, with fixes and some new features. It should be available at about the same time as Lotusphere. By all accounts quite a few customers have already upgraded, so a bunch of sessions discussing the features of 7 in some detail, and how to get the best out of them -- DDM (Domino Domain Monitoring), the DB2 back-end store, and more, are likely to be packed out and some are already on the schedule for re-runs.
Then there's the future releases. There has been a lot of discussion on various blogs and Web sites about the Notes 8 -- the "Hannover" release, and also possibly a 7.5 release in the meantime. There will be a huge amount of interest in these subjects, as Notes 8 particularly marks two large changes in the Notes client. The first is the Eclipse integration, offering Notes as a plug-in to the Workplace client rather than a stand-alone program.
As if that weren't enough, the second big change will be the move towards activity-centric display of content, which we saw a number of previews of last year. This promises to cement Lotus being right at the top of the Collaborative Computing pile. I won't say any more now, just wait for the opening of Lotusphere on January 23 for that one. It'd be nice if there are some really good demos of Notes 8, too. There hasn't been a really memorable Lotusphere opening ceremony demo since Mussie Shore's presentation of Notes 4, way back in 1996.