Mozilla’s Thunderbird looks likely to stay ahead of the pack when it comes to desktop email clients, following its latest update. Against its rival Windows programs such as Outlook and Outlook Express, Thunderbird has always been able to hold its own because of its better search and security options, and superior junk and phishing filters. And its latest update has one feature that is likely to keep it ahead of the competition: Chat. You can now chat with your Facebook and Gmail friends using Thunderbird. It also supports IRC and Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP). The separate chat tab also allows access to your Twitter timeline. Though it is not possible to post in Facebook, the chat feature on a desktop client clearly makes it a winner. Lotus Notes users might want to explore whether it has the email migration capabilities they can opt for with Outlook.
Social media vendors are enhancing the flow of knowledge through the workplace by enabling social software initiatives that span across departments, markets and businesses globally. Through their actions they are also gaining a strong sense of how effective collaboration tools can alleviate many of the common problems related to communications and workflows in every business. Previously there were often separate systems that did not talk to each other at all, causing information silos and communication breakdowns. It meant email migration software or conversion from one format to another was required. But the latest social software serves many functions and can provide an organisation with a platform to enable multiple business tasks and operations from one system. The use of mobile has further increased the capabilities of social software to provide a flexible framework that capitalises on social technology collaboration. The challenge now is to adopt this technology to benefit and ease often-disjointed collaboration between departments, trading partners, customers and suppliers.
Technology — and in particular social collaboration software — is being credited with the significant increase in contingent workers. Social collaboration can make everyone a little bit more productive each day, by helping them find the right contact, learn how to do something or get an answer to their question faster than ever before — and often in a more dynamic way. It also helps break down organisational silos and helps teams work more effectively across departments or regions. The social collaboration software market was a $600 million industry in 2010, but it has been estimated it will reach $6.4 billion in 2016. Social collaboration software has potential to enhance communication both with employees and customers. It encompasses all the major tools that are used daily, including to-do lists, live chat, calendars, task management, people and project discovery, social accountability and cloud-based storage. It can sidestep the need for email migration as, for example, writers can edit work collaboratively rather than communicating through a mass of emails and phone calls.
Production problems at the Washington Post have been blamed on a lost connection between the newspaper and its data centre. The three-hour outage on September 5 prevented updates to about 40 per cent of its metropolitan delivery and single copy papers. The result was that a lead piece on Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic convention was omitted from those editions. Updates of the web edition of the paper were also limited as the website was down, as was the paper’s Lotus Notes software (and, presumably, its Lotus Notes Archive), as well as its Methode writing software. An email from Managing Editor John Temple to staff said a post mortem of the technical issues had been conducted and a plan had been developed to address them. Temple said the problems had begun after publication of the paper’s first edition. Staff had worked into the early morning trying to troubleshoot technical problems and devise workarounds to enable publication outside normal channels.
Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD) is set to adopt virtual desktop technology. The move is part of a huge project to improve data access, normalise the military’s use of mobile devices and reinvent its use of computers. The adoption of Citrix Systems’ virtual desktop technology is an ambitious solution to the DoD’s need to enforce separation between information of different classifications. Another huge benefit of virtual desktops will be meeting the expectations of staff demanding to work from their own smartphones, tablets and laptops. Data is never actually transferred to a mobile device, so it remains protected no matter what happens to the device. The Sharepoint collaboration platform has been trialled for compressing and efficiently delivering information to field staff even in areas with poor wireless coverage. It appears that in the Lotus Notes Sharepoint choice, the latter is seen as being more effective in tagging content by classification — ensuring data can be exchanged without inadvertently mixing, say, unclassified and restricted information.
The ability to take and securely share photos and make one-touch conference calls is the latest addition to the Good for Enterprise collaboration app. The app’s creator, Good Technology, says its improved app provides users with the ability to snap and securely share photos via email from whiteboard sessions or job sites without worrying about the image ending up in a cloud repository such as iCloud or Dropbox. Employees can organise and track tasks with real-time synchronisation of Microsoft Outlook tasks or Lotus Notes To Do’s, or when that information has been converted from Notes to Outlook. Use of the Good for Enterprise application requires a Good for Enterprise server and client access licence. Versions of Good for Enterprise are available for both iOS and Android. Good for Enterprise said the product was an elegant, powerful and secure collaboration app that supports the way employees want to work using the devices they prefer.
Google is to switch off its spam filtering and email archiving product, Postini. It will shift many of its Postini users to Google Apps, which also includes Postini’s features. Apps is Google’s cloud office suite that includes email, calendars and documents. Google has integrated Postini’s security features into Apps. Postini customers who sign on for Apps will still be able to use it with Exchange and Lotus Notes, so naturally they will be able to view Lotus Notes attachments. And they will also get Gmail thrown into the mix. But Google said it won’t force users to switch to Apps or Gmail. Even after the transition, customers will be welcome to continue using the email security features (for the same price) with their on-premise email systems such as Exchange or Lotus Notes. “We’re helping customers make a successful transition first, and then we’re dealing with winding down support for Postini as a standalone product,” Google said.
Outlook.com represents a massive upgrade to what was previously known as Hotmail. It has been one of the most popular free email tools on the web for years, but had seen little in the way of upgrades. The first feature that sets Outlook apart is unlimited storage. The system also integrates social networks, giving you access to contacts from LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Flickr. And you can chat to your friends from the system itself, rather than having to visit these different sites. You can also access MS Office Apps. You can open and edit files from within the browser, similar to the Google Docs system, and you can also access Skype from within the browser itself. There has been criticism that some of the features in Outlook don’t work as expected, but overall the reception has been reasonably positive. It will be interesting to see whether there is an increase in people choosing to migrate Lotus Notes to Outlook as a result.
Microsoft’s new email service, Outlook.com, has been hailed as a one-two punch against major rival Google. The updated service, which is to replace Hotmail, features a big redesign that allows Outlook.com accounts to be synchronised across a range of devices, and includes integration with social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But Microsoft is also hoping its new service will attract many who currently use Google’s Gmail service. Hotmail still has more users than Gmail, although the gap is closing. And Microsoft wants to maintain that lead, if not expand it. But it has been tipped Microsoft’s new email platform will also help to draw attention and act as a springboard into the company’s emerging cloud offerings. A revamped Outlook.com should help Microsoft convince more users to add cloud functionality to their current Microsoft Office installations Attracting more users to Outlook.com may also see an increase in demand for Lotus Notes to Outlook conversion.
One of the hot new features of Outlook.com — Microsoft’s upgraded and renamed version of Hotmail — is supposed to be that devices without Office loaded onto them can open Office attachments in the cloud via a browser. However, this feature does not work with Android mobile devices. Microsoft says it has been made aware of the issue and is working to improve the Outlook.com Preview on all modern devices. Outlook.com Preview is the public trial of the email platform that will eventually replace Hotmail. The online editing of Office documents via browser is a handy feature for those who might access Outlook.com via devices that don’t have Office loaded on them. It has worked successfully on devices running Windows 8, Windows 7 and iOS. But for regular Outlook users, including those who convert Lotus Notes to Outlook, it will be worth noting its current limitations with Android devices.