Lotusphere2007 - Day 1 - Opening General Session

Well the Opening General Session has just finished and it was quite a show. Things started off with a covers band doing some fairly passable versions of Sgt Pepper, Changes, Under Pressure and more. As with a lot of these types of clean cut teen bands they got a little over excited and made 7,000 slightly hung over attendees stand up like it's a full blown concert, I suppose it got people going!

The keynote was done by Neil Armstrong who got a huge reception. It was short, sweet and well delivered, exactly the sort of person who goes down well at these sort of things.

The session is always a marathon, not a sprint so after the obligatory stats which are pretty impressive we got into the first round of demos. ND8 is looking very impressive, the big news is that first public beta should be out in the next couple of months with a view to a mid-year gold release. The implication was that Mac and Linux clients would be available at the same time as Windows but I need to confirm that with someone.

The demos continued thick and fast with Sametime updates, Websphere Portal 6.0 (which in it's new Express version may well be worth a look for portal virgins such as myself). And then onto the big releases which were being hinted at yesterday.

First we have Quickr which seems like IBM / Lotus' response to Microsoft's Groove. The demo was very quick and with no prior knowledge it's going to be hard to comment, yet another thing to find out about during the week. What does sound good is that the personal version is free for Notes customers, the Standard Edition is free for Quickplace users.

The other announcement was Lotus Connections. Again not a huge amount of detail but we're basically talking Lotus' answer to Web 2.0, including Dogear (a version of digg or delicious), social networking (a la Facebook or MySpace) and the now well known Activity Explorer.

Of the two new product announcements both sound useful to me, but trying to be objective about it I think Quickr is going to be a slow grower as it's likely to take a more viral approach to growth whereas Connections will be rolled out (or not) en masse by the IT department.

Now my favourite part of what we've seen so far is the Open Document Format (ODF) support built into Notes 8. There's a rumour I've heard repeated a couple of times now that IBM are planning to drop MS Office from there install base once Note 8 rolls out as it contains editors for an ODF word processor, spreadsheet and presentation suite. Having seen a couple of demos of them now I can say that looks like a very appealling proposition. The thought of being ablt to ditch Office and the upgrade taxes associated would save my one man band operation money so scale that up to an enterprise level and we're talking a major shift in how you work.