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Lotus Notes 8, Domino 8 betas available for testing

Beta versions of the next generation of IBM's Lotus Notes and Domino 8 collaboration applications are now available for free download by users who want to test the new functions and user interfaces incorporated in the products.

In an announcement Thursday, IBM said the Notes 8 client is available for users of Microsoft Windows XP and Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, while the Domino Server 8 beta can be used with Windows 2003 Server, IBM AIX 5.3, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10, Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris 10 and several mainframe operating systems.

The features offered in the upcoming Lotus versions, which are slated for release in the middle of this year and are built using Eclipse-based open standards, include:

-- New productivity editors in Notes 8 that are based on the OpenDocument Format and allow users to create and edit spreadsheets, graphics and documents.

-- Embedded instant messaging and presence awareness that will indicate whether other users are available immediately to communicate.

-- Capabilities for users to view incoming e-mail by "conversations," with related messages appearing together to streamline communications.

-- Composite applications that allow the creation of rich Web 2.0 applications and "enterprise mashups" so content can be combined from multiple systems for communications across system boundaries.

-- Extended support for Web services so that Lotus Domino 7, Lotus Notes 8 clients and Domino 8 servers can directly initiate Web service requests within a Lotus Domino application to access and use information from other applications.