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back to article Office 365 turns Lotus eater

Microsoft has licensed Lotus-to-anything migration software from Binary Tree, and plans to use its partner's wares to lure Lotus customers away from IBM and into the cloud. Kevin Allison, Microsoft's general manager of Office 365. has declared the deal a tremendous idea as it “... helps simplify the onboarding process and reduce …

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I thought Lotus was dead.

i.e. just a matter of when not if?? Some stats on the install base and latest version would be informing.

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Re: I thought Lotus was dead.

I still have a copy..... For windows 98 I think or is it 95.

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Re: I thought Lotus was dead.

Unfortunately not. I've just taken a contract at a vary large company and they run Lotus, something that I thought I'd seen the back of in the early 90's.

To be fair most of the issues I've had with it are to do with being used to the M$ way, but some little niggles just don't go away.

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Re: I thought Lotus was dead.

Agreed. Nine times out of ten it's just familiarity. I look at Outlook and go "wtf?" as it no easier for new users.

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Lotus Notes might not be quite dead just yet, but it's smelled pretty nasty for some time now

I started using Lotus Notes over twenty years ago, and have always hated it with a passion. Anything that kills it can only be a good thing,

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lotus Notes might not be quite dead just yet, but it's smelled pretty nasty for some time now

Yes, please save us from the hell that is Lotus Notes.

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Re: Lotus Notes might not be quite dead just yet, but it's smelled pretty nasty for some time now

The amount of irrational hatred from people just amazes me.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lotus Notes might not be quite dead just yet, but it's smelled pretty nasty for some time now

Nothing irrational from me. I use the piece of shit every day.

I miss being able to save emails to a file, not print them to PDF and save every attachment separately.

I hate the way it chews resourses to the point where I have to turn Lotus Notes off to let some applications run properly.

Would you like some more rationales for the hatred I have for it?

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Re: Lotus Notes might not be quite dead just yet, but it's smelled pretty nasty for some time now

I can save emails to a standard .eml file. Why can't you?

Try upgrading to the latest version, 8.5.3 FP2, you might stop moaning then.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lotus Notes might not be quite dead just yet, but it's smelled pretty nasty for some time now

Have to say that I use Lotus Notes every day and I can do all of the things that you claim not to be able to. I currently have a requirement to use both Notes and Outlook and I have to say that I find Notes more "intuitive" to the extent that I forward all of my Outlook mail to Notes.

Swings & roundabouts.....

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Re: Lotus Notes might not be quite dead just yet, but it's smelled pretty nasty for some time now

Using 8.5:

I hate that, in a text box Ctrl+A doesn't select all, it inserts a pointless special character.

I hate that, if I view details of an email address, I can select the text, but I can't copy it.

I hate that pop up dialogs (like Find, various option, etc) aren't actually windows, but just drawn to overlay the main window. So can't be moved out of it. And the close button doesn't work on them.

I hate that you can't drag and drop things in and out of trash and sent, because they are 'special'

I hate the fact that you don't check for mail, you "replicate your database", and that doing it every 5 minutes is considered quite often enough. Like it's 1997 and we're using POP over dialup.

I hate that every so often, it will declare that it "Can't create file" when trying to copy text from an email. Then refuse to open any other emails until you restart.

I hate that rules aren't editable. Or duplicable. Or work properly, half the time. I shouldn't have to write an agent to do simple tasks.

I hate so much more about this pile of junk I just do not have time to write about.

Most of all I DO NOT WANT a cross-platform replicating database application platform that can (barely) be coerced into providing basic email-like functionality. I want a proper email client, designed for Windows, using Windows controls and affordances, following Windows UI standards. If you're writing client software in Java, you're just off to a bad start already.

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@Ben Rose

"Try upgrading to the latest version, 8.5.3 FP2, you might stop moaning then."

Yea, because its something I really have control over.

It took a couple of years to get from version 6 to version 8.5 from our glorious American IT overlords.

If I could choose what version was on the server I could also choose what program was on the server and stick on something a lot friendlier, like Exchange.

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WTF?

Re: Lotus Notes might not be quite dead just yet, but it's smelled pretty nasty for some time now

>Using 8.5:

Really, doesn't sound like any version of 8.5 I've ever used.

>I hate that, in a text box Ctrl+A doesn't select all, it inserts a pointless special character.

It selects all for me. Always has done.

>I hate that, if I view details of an email address, I can select the text, but I can't copy it.

I just did that, copied, pasted. You are using Notes, right?

>I hate that pop up dialogs (like Find, various option, etc) aren't actually windows, but just drawn to overlay >the main window. So can't be moved out of it. And the close button doesn't work on them.

They are windows for me. I run 3 monitors, Notes runs in just one of them. I can drag the pop-up dialog from screen 1 to screen 3 if I wish. The close button works just fine.

> I hate that you can't drag and drop things in and out of trash and sent, because they are 'special'.

Just tragged something into the trash, been possible since V4 circa 1996. Just dragged something out of the trash, fancy that. It worked just fine. Sent shows all the email that has been sent, that's the whole point, but you can move things out of it if you wish.

>I hate the fact that you don't check for mail, you "replicate your database", and that doing it every 5 minutes >is considered quite often enough. Like it's 1997 and we're using POP over dialup.

Replication isn't required at all for server based mail. If you want a local inbox, then it will need to synchronise somehow - Lotus call this replication. It isn't just a mail program, so replication can do a lot more than mail - hence "check for mail" isn't on a button as perhaps you might expect. You can, however, replicate as often as you like. Just click "Start Now", or schedule it to replicate every minute if you wish. You can even set it to automatically replicate immediately when you receive new email. There are simply no restrictions here.

>I hate that every so often, it will declare that it "Can't create file" when trying to copy text from an email. Then >refuse to open any other emails until you restart.

Not familiar with this issue, but it's certainly far from normal.

>I hate that rules aren't editable. Or duplicable. Or work properly, half the time. I shouldn't have to write an >agent to do simple tasks.

Rules can be edited. They can't be duplicated, although one is usually sufficient. Rules do work just fine although there is a finite limit on the number that can be active at any one time, I believe currently 150. Nobody in practice really needs that many rules as they can be consolidated fairly easily. I do see many reported issues relating to rules though, so clearly this part of the product could work better somehow. It usually takes me 5-10mins sat with the user to see where it's going wrong and get things working as they intend.

> I hate so much more about this pile of junk I just do not have time to write about.

Aside from the rules, which I agree cause problems for many users, I've not seen anything else valid in your reports.

>Most of all I DO NOT WANT a cross-platform replicating database application platform that can (barely) be >coerced into providing basic email-like functionality. I want a proper email client, designed for Windows, >using Windows controls and affordances, following Windows UI standards. If you're writing client software >in Java, you're just off to a bad start already.

The client only recently became available for non-Windows platforms and, if I'm truly honest, it's made it a better although somewhat bloated product.

You clearly seem to have a lot of issues and the majority must be down to the (bad) way the product is deployed in your environment. I'd be more than happy to discuss this off-line to get to the bottom of your issues. The product has its weaknesses, but none of them are above.

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Re: @Ben Rose

"Yea, because its something I really have control over.

It took a couple of years to get from version 6 to version 8.5 from our glorious American IT overlords."

But you go ahead and blame the product won't you? If IBM have created a product that has the functions you require but your IT department don't deploy it, then whose fault is this exacrly?

"If could choose what version was on the server I could also choose what program was on the server and stick on something a lot friendlier, like Exchange."

Your fault doesn't lie with the server, it's the client. Smile to the nice PFY on your helpdesk and he might upgrade you.

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Re: @Ben Rose

"But you go ahead and blame the product won't you?"

If my boss forces me to use a piece of shit then:

1) My boss is a dick

2) I'm still using a piece of shit.

The discussion is not about point 1. Most of us are forced to use the same company wide software (and version). We cannot choose, only put up with what we have. And its hard to smile at your IT support when they are on the other side of the world and take 1 week to look at urgent problems.

But you seem to be trying to squirm out of point 2. It doesn't mater why I'm using a piece of shit, it doesn't make it any better to use.

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Re: @Ben Rose

This is like saying that TV is crap as it's not widescreen, low resolution, black & white and connected to a weak antenna signal.

TV is a piece of shit, right?

You're right about one thing, your boss is a dick and your IT support are crap.

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Re: @Ben Rose

I'm not saying the TV is shit.

I'm saying the picture on the TV is shit.

The user experience is shit.

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Re: @Ben Rose

The picture will always be shit on an old TV...upgrade it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @Ben Rose

You are constantly failing to grasp the point. The average user CANNOT choose the program or the version of software on their email severs & desktops.

The average user is not allowed to replace the TV, replace the crap areal with satellite, etc.

Remember that Lotus Notes is not just an email client, thus all the bloat. There are all sorts of database nonsense that no one uses it for.

My ageing office computer cannot handle the extra strain that Notes 8.5 puts on it. It would run better with 2G of memory, but so many older machines here with 1G.

I have to shut it down to get half the software I use to work. Notes 6 wasn't as bad (resource hogging wise) but it had even more problems.

However, the latest version of, say, outlook works fine with my system. Its hardly noticeable that its even running. Very low on resource usage. But then it is designed for email alone.

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Lotus isn't dead, but it is pining for the Fjords.

Not sure why IBM expects customers to stick with it when the last major upgrade was in the 90's. Just little feature tweak updates would be nice... Like how the message filters are handled... Ugh...

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Re: Lotus isn't dead, but it is pining for the Fjords.

Errr, suspect that this will attract flames to the moth but there have been several 'major upgrades' since the 90's but IBM seem to be completely unable to advertise/promote their (Lotus) software. You can expect to see another significant release in the next few months when they provide the facility to use a browser plug-in to view Notes databases natively.

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Re: Lotus isn't dead, but it is pining for the Fjords.

This new in: "Reg commentard in not having any idea what he is talking about, shock."

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Re: Lotus isn't dead, but it is pining for the Fjords.

@Kevin Johnston - naaaa, you're good. No flames, but the occasional moth is always going to sneak through :)

My point as a end user is it looks like and acts like it did in the 90's... I'm not noticing any difference on the surface since the last time I used it, and back then it was a halfway decent upgrade from cc:Mail (anyone remember that one?). I know there have been upgrades underneath, but as of 8.5.2, it still hasn't reached the end user usability of Exchange/Outlook in 2000 and it had some serious issues back then. (not that I'm all that fond of MS, but they did get that halfway right...) It's gotten to a point where I'm about to go rogue at work and setup a quick and extremely dirty imap server just so I can use Thunderbird and quickly and *effectively* read/sort and find my emails.

I'm wishing that they would spent some engineering time on the front end so it matched the fairly good backend...

You've got a point about promotion - IBM couldn't market free gold to prospectors panning a Colorado river... Notes is the most recent example, but OS/2 comes to mind as well.

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@admiraljkb

Are you per chance using Notes 8.5.2 in the "Basic Configuration"? Choose Help....About.

If so, you're using Notes 8.5.2 in a mode that looks like Notes 5. Not good.

Domino (the Notes server) is also an IMAP server, you shouldn't need anything else.

Notes pre-dates OS2, btw. Used to run Notes servers on it, way back when.

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Re: @admiraljkb

Yep - you nailed it - Basic Configuration... That would explain why I'm not detecting any improvement then in 15 odd years. I wonder how many other end users have the same problem?

OS/2 - that takes me back. RIP OS/2...

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Big deal

that's like watching a "normal" person compete in the special olympics (nothing against special olympians). Never been a fan of outlook, wouldn't use 365 on a bet and Notes is, well, a relationional database that just happens do to a half fast job at email.

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Re: Relational

Lotus Notes is, in fact, very definitely not and doesn't want to be a relational database.

In IBM-speak it's a "document-centric" database. Which actually makes the handling of 'relations' between entities difficult and confusing.

I've seen some dodgy and badly-designed business systems in my time. In most cases they are in-house things developed in isolation from best practices or even requirements analysis and programming ability. Which to some extent might be excusable.

However Lotus Notes takes the biscuit for being the most nonsensical and pointless software solution ever. AFAICT its sole aim is lock-in to keep its network of "consultants" in business.

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Re: Relational

I refer you to my earlier comment about clueless people who just don't understand and blame the tool, not the workman.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Relational

Strangely, the clueless people have a certification from IBM that says they are allowed to be let loose to royally cock up the software used to run businesses.

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Re: Relational

A piece of paper doesn't count for shit. Same applies to MCSEs and driving licences.

You need skills and experience, not ability to pass a multi-choice exam.

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Re: Relational

Let me second AC @20:32 GMT's point here:

Notes/Domino is NOT in any way shape or form anything that RESEMBLES a relational database. It's actually a lot closer to most of the NoSQL setups out there.

I've seen people trying to use it as one, but as soon as they realize that they care about the relationships between datums, there are many tears and gnashing of teeth (normally mine).

Notes/Domino is best described as a document store. It adequately does the job of a filing cabinet, but if you want a feature set beyond that get (insert MS SQL, MySQL, Postgre SQL, Oracle etc. at your preference), and someone who knows what "2nd normal form" means.

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Won't trust MS for any migration

Local University here attempted to move to BPOS before Office 365 existed, and were promised a migration path.

After about 8,000 users were migrated, it turns out the only MS supported migration path for over 16,000 users (faculty and staff only) was to sync to a PST and upload the PST to Office 365, one user at a time.

MS is quick to bring in migration tools for other's products, but once you pick an MS product your SOL even if you want to move to another MS product.

The University went with a local MS Exchange deployment, and had to do the user by user migration...

Personally having been a lotus user (and administrator, at times), I far prefer Notes and Domino over Exchange and Sharepoint.

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Mushroom

Re: Won't trust MS for any migration

Creation of PSTs can be scripted on the Exchange server, and the upload can also be automated. Not as bad as you make it sound.

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Re: Won't trust MS for any migration

Until you wanna open a doclink.

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WTF?

spruiking???

I *like* this place. I have a masters' in spelling words that don't exist[1], but that one's a new one on me!

Aha: (transitive, Australian) To promote a thing or idea to another person.

Well, I live and learn.

[1] Really.

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Anonymous Coward

A lesson from the Microsoft school of business :)

"This is a first cut competitive analysis of Lotus Notes/Domino R5, based on the information we have collected to date", link

"Microsoft will offer PC Excel purchasers either $75 or a copy of Windows 286/386 if they send us: Their Lotus 1-2-3 system disk", link

"The purpose of the meeting was to review Lotus’ concerns regarding Microsoft’s fairness in supporting OCX development", link

"By now, you should have received via fax an invitation to our upcoming OLE DB Design Preview .. No .. I did not receive the fax. Do you know to which fax number you sent it? .. We would like to have Lotus represent ion at the design review", link

"Why was Lotus told that the shell would not be OLE enabled when In fact it is?", link

"Why does IBM help LOTUS so much", Bill Gates link

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Poor Microsoft

I've used BT software quite a bit doing 10's of thousands of Notes to Exchange mailbox migrations. The software is a piece of **** really, and the support from BT is woeful. I've never met a worse company for support - they only support the absolute latest point version which means every time you hit a bug, you have to upgrade your migration platform, which invariably introduces yet another bug. And when you point out that they change functionality that you were reliant on, you are screwed as they refuse to support the old verison, and won't change functionality without you paying for it. Worse software company ever. Oh, and they only provide support 9-5 NY time.

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Clueless

If there is any topic that is guaranteed to bring in clueless comments from people who call themselves IT professionals, it's Lotus Notes.

The version I am running is dated July 2012. Just because your clueless admin didn't upgrade since the 90's, don't blame it on the product. What is it they say about bad workmen?

The biggest problem with Lotus Notes is the IT Managers who run the environments. They wouldn't hesitate to hire a DBA for SQL or Oracle. They wouldn't hesitate to hire an MCSE for Windows/Exchange. But they seem to think anybody can just inherit Lotus Notes and be an expert overnight.

You're clueless and you don't understand it, so it's the product's fault, right? Wrong...you're just out of your depth.

As for Microsoft, I've lost count of the amount of times they have released a migration tool that would kill Lotus Notes. They fail every time because they either a) only support mail migration or b) don't actually support movement of applications more complicated that a discussion database.

You think your users hate Lotus Nots now? You wait until you've moved all their email into Outlook and they STILL have to open Lotus Notes to get any work done. Hundreds of companies globally have "moved to Lotus Notes" but they're stuck halfway. The mail has gone but their apps are still stuck in the old infrastructure. The Lotus servers are still up but the admin team have left as you were planning to make them redundant. The migration team left too, as soon as they'd dumped it all into .pst files. They talked you into doing it that way, as sizing an Exchange infrastructure that could handle the same amount of data wouldn't actually have got sign-off and the project canned.

If you're only using Notes for email, you've always been using the wrong product. But if you're using Notes properly, there still isn't a suitable cost effective alternative - that's why we're buying more, not less, Notes licenses each year.

I genuinely believe if IBM offered to go back and put the email for these "failed migration" customers back into Notes free of charge, they would leap at the chance. At least they'd only have one product to support.

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Re: Clueless

I agree, I was once an idiot who knew nothing about Notes until I made myself go through it and was like WTH missed over 90% of the admin side, a week later all Domino Servers responded 10x better, setup of clients made easier (Almost nothing done manually after that).

But no-one liked using Notes (Even Version 8 which I still prefer to Outlook) so the envitable happened.

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Re: Clueless

IBM (Lotus Notes) lost it when IBM decided that they no longer gave a shit about anything other the large enterprise customers. From that point on it started to cease to be relevant.

This leaves the more commonly used Microsoft alternatives of Sharepoint and Exchange. As in Sharepoint that is indescribably awful in most ways, where the best it manages is adequate at basic functionality, and Exchange which is stunningly resource intensive and can sometimes be a real PITA to do what ought to be basic maintenance. I'll happily admit that the management of Exchange has improved in recent versions, despite MS's insistence on focusing on Lync and their rather obscure take on "Unified Communications".

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Pint

Re: Clueless

@Ben Rose I'm not going to take offence, largely because I agree with a good chunk of your email. :) Particularly the part about Email and Notes not being a good match. I still contend that Notes is an application development platform, and the email features put in are a proof of concept app that never got the proper engineering time it deserved.

So as one of the clueless idiots, I'll say that 8.5.2 is pretty current, but I have no control of it. I really can't tell the difference as an end user between that and 4.5. At least it isn't 4.5.2 when I was last on Notes. The office doesn't want to screw with it any-more, so they're just going to ditch it and install Exchange. If you lose some emails, oh well. I've seen the same with major Exchange upgrades in the recent past. Noone seems to get that concerned about it any-more surprisingly. Save your old emails off in a pst and keep moving...

I'll agree with you - Notes is generally improperly managed, set out with bad defaults, and generally setup for failure out of the box unless you have good admins handling it. How many companies have that? IBM is setting it up for epic Flail it seems. Doesn't matter how big or small the environment, Notes seems to get the short stick on proper setup. You sir might be the exception.

But if you think they'll hire a (proper) MCSE for Window/Exchange (and I'll add Sharepoint) - you'd be wrong there. Any idiot can click the next key and install them, that's all the salary that will be paid for, and there we get into trouble on the newer platforms... Lack of expertise is even more rampant there...

Exchange allows you to attach to it with whatever client you want, and setup rules however you want out of the box with minimal issues on the administration side and some serious ease of use on the end user side. (that's a big plus and and has hinted to earlier a minus, because now any idiot that can click the next button calls themselves a Exchange Admin and makes mistakes that won't be seen for a year or two when the system goes BOOM)

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Notes has moved on...

In my current job 10 or so devs and admins currently support 4,000 users+ round the world who are, as far as they can see, using web based project management and content management solutions - 'Cloud hosted, "No SQL", Mobile enabled' etc.

It has been suggested that we port it over to MS Sharepoint, but that went away when they realised what the application actually does, and the specs of servers that it does it on.

I guess a lot of people use Notes based apps via the browser each day, without knowing it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Notes has moved on...

"I guess a lot of people use Notes based apps via the browser each day..."

I used to get told off for saying that, had to say "Domino based apps"...

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Meh

Re: Notes has moved on...

IBM changes the terminology for Domino Apps nearly every major release, so depends on your release

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My recollection of the Binary Tree Database Migration Tools...

...was that they only migrated databases that had been built on the standard Domino database templates.

They could not handle anything that was even remotely customised.

I've yet to see a Domino site that doesn't have customised applications.

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Anonymous Coward

Customised applications

It seems appropriate to point out that for many businesses it might be valuable to consider open solutions rather than just bend over and take it as IBM and their consultants continue to shaft you for eternity.

Once you're stuck with Lotus Notes/Domino, it's very, very difficult to move away and those you're beholden to can just make up any numbers they like on their invoices.

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Mushroom

I used Notes for ages - hated it. There is just no comparison with Outlook / Exchange / UM / Lync / Sharepoint and the integration across them.

The sooner it dies the better. Ever heard of anyone migrating from Exchange to Notes? I havnt....

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Yes

Happens more often than you'd think. I've performed several in recent years.

Not entirely surprised how Outlook and Exchange integrate so well...ummm, they're client and server of the same thing.

I've not seen MS do anything that simply wasn't an attempt at copying functionality available from IBM and each time they try, customer have to rip everything out and replace it - instead of a neat in-place upgrade. Last time all the OS even had to be upgraded to 64-bit.

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Unhappy

Yep, the company I worked for a few years back migrated from Exchange to Domino. They were US-owned, though (where Lotus is much more common) and we were in bed with IBM for all hardware from PCs to mainframes, so that might explain it.

I still hate Domino/Notes, though....

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Why do you hate? Notes, maybe, but I've never known anybody to hate Domino, most stable and scaleable mail server product I've ever known.

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