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Want To Test Drive IBM Lotus Notes 8 For Free? Here's The URL

Users can sign up for a free open beta program for Lotus and Domino 8, the completed versions of which are expected to be launched in mid-summer.

IBM has extended an open invitation to computer users to poke a stick at its forthcoming Lotus Notes and Domino e-mail and collaboration products.

Under a program announced this week, users can sign up for a free open beta program for Lotus and Domino 8, the completed versions of which are expected to be launched in mid-summer, according to IBM.

IBM said 12,000 beta testers already are putting the software through its paces, kicking the tires on new features such as a redesigned interface that facilitates quick views of important e-mails by grouping them into threads and enhanced search capabilities that extend beyond the in-box.

Users can sign up for the beta program at

In an effort to become a central player in Corporate America's co-optation of Web 2.0-style communication, IBM in recent weeks has unveiled a host of products designed to let customers create the kind of loosely organized, ad hoc networks and knowledge bases found on community-driven Web sites like MySpace and Wikipedia.

Beyond the new collaborative features in Lotus Notes, IBM in January introduced Lotus Connections, software that the company says paves the way for "business-grade social computing."

Connections lets office workers post on corporate intranets profiles similar to what their teenage sons or daughters might place on MySpace -- sans the links to their favorite American Idol performers.

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