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11/17/2008
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Novell Keeps Its E-Mail Client Alive With GroupWise 8

Groupwise 8, introduced Monday, introduces third-party editing support, so users can compose e-mail messages from Word or OpenOffice.org.

Novell Groupwise is still chugging along. On Monday, Novell released the latest version of its embattled e-mail software, which has ceded significant ground to the rest of the e-mail market in the last several years.

Groupwise 8 introduces the concept of the "Interactive Home View," a customizable workspace for users. Interactive Home View allows users to set up multiple custom workspaces, within which employees designate multiple panels that can contain slivers of calendar information, specified e-mail threads, and Web browser instances pointed to helpful Web sites or Web applications.

The aim, Wendy Steinle, Novell director of end user computing solutions marketing, said in an interview, is to provide employees with the ability to "design and use a workspace that works the way they do, so that they can be the most productive." It's also a nod to Novell's commitment to interoperability, she said, as it leverages whatever Web browser a company has set up as the default in order to display Web pages.

For example, an employee might have a main workspace that includes one panel containing all e-mail, another with e-mail from a select set of clients and managers, another pointing to Google Reader for RSS feeds, another pointing to the corporate Intranet site and yet another with calendar information. Another workspace might be devoted exclusively to e-mails, calendar information, and news related to an upcoming business trip.

Groupwise 8 introduces third-party editing support, so users can compose e-mail messages from Word or OpenOffice.org. It also adds RSS support, threaded discussions much like are available in various other e-mail and Webmail systems, the ability to move items like e-mails and appointments into an ad hoc task list, send and import display settings from other people, and attach notes to received attachments.

Novell continues to tout the broad compatibility Groupwise has. On the client side, Groupwise runs on Windows, Linux, Mac, the Web, and mobile devices. On the server side, organizations can use Windows, Linux, or Novell's NetWare servers. In the latest version, the user interfaces for the Windows and Linux clients have been overhauled to look more like the Windows client, while the Web access client also gets new features like spell check and a scrollable e-mail list rather than just displaying 20 items at a time. Novell also recently added iPhone support for Groupwise.

While Groupwise has struggled in recent years, Steinle said it retains strength in government and health care and, to a lesser degree, education, finance, and manufacturing, and that Novell remains committed to it. "Customers absolutely have a future with Groupwise," she said. "Novell is highly committed to the collaboration market."

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