Many years ago I worked somewhere that used cc:Mail as a corporate standard. I didn't especially enjoy the experience. Even after using Volvos Memo on a mainframe (yes, Volvo once developed an email system)!

Then they got the Lotus Notes bug. Productivity went down for about a month after the roll-out as people tried to fight with the (oh so powerful) UI to actually get anything (eg reading email) done. Luckily there was a connector available so I could use MS Mail to do the basics.

Then a small rebellion led by a few of us (and thankfully supported by our local IT folks and management) saw us migrate to Exchange (which shortly afterwards was rolled out company wide thanks to our acquisition by a nimbler, more profitable and dare I say better communicating company).

Not long after that I joined a company using GroupWise. Luckily for my sanity an Outlook connector existed for that and until our Exchange revolution there I was able to stay sane.

Fast forward another 6 or 7 years during which time I've been outside the normal corporate environment (using a third party hosted Exchange service for email though) and I'm getting to grips with what Exchange, Sharepoint and the Office Communication Server now offer (interestingly enough Ray Ozzie, the man behind Notes is now the Chief Architect here at Microsoft - and I think MS has learnt a lot from Lotus and IBM on how not to build groupware and how to get it right from Ozzies subsequent efforts with Groove) and I'm more impressed each day with how easy it makes life.

At Microsoft they don't just sell the platform and clients, the business is run on the latest versions of the products (and there are even some 'spin off' solutions such as OfficeLive that go to prove how capable and scalable these tools are) and the teams developing the products use them daily.

So, how is Notes fairing in the meantime? Version 6 (released in 2002) featured over a thousand new and improved features and opened up some brave new worlds for IBM (XML support, Linux etc). But you have to wonder if the enthusiasm for the product was waning within IBM as version 7 (released in 2005) revealed only a hundred new features. Given that level of support I wonder if 2007 will see version 8 with tens of new or improved features! Can't see me recommending it any time soon!

In the meantime Exchange, Sharepoint and the Office System (including the Groove collaboration tools) in their 2007 variants are evolving and innovating was as much (if not more) vigor as they were in 2000 (and with clients like Evolution, Entourage and Pocket Outlook the support if available anywhere you need it).