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More On Kapor's Attempt To Best Outlook 229

Posted by timothy
from the time-is-ripe dept.
An anonymous reader writes "There's a story on the Boston Globe's Digital MASS section about Mitch Kapor , the guy who created Lotus 1-2-3. He will reportedly spend about $5 mil to create something competing with MS Outlook. More of the story here." We mentioned this a few months ago as well, and it sounds like any software release is still some time off.
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More On Kapor's Attempt To Best Outlook

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  • Best of luck to him (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xactoguy (555443) on Monday December 23, 2002 @03:56AM (#4943251)
    I definitely wish him the best of luck. Having a free email/calender/planner/whatever else piece of software that is free, better than Outlook, and available for Mac, Linux and Windows is certainly a hefty goal, but if he can pull it off it will certainly be an excellent feat.
  • by doubleyewdee (633486) <wd@ t e l e kinesis.org> on Monday December 23, 2002 @03:57AM (#4943256) Homepage
    Duke Nukem Forever is looking better than ever. No, really. It's going to rock! This will be the ultimate computer game. Really. It's gonna be great. I'll see you all in line at Best Buy!
  • Mitch Kapor (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 23, 2002 @03:59AM (#4943265)
    Mitch Kapor was also responsible for the promotion of Lotus Notes.

    Sure it burned the eyes out of your skull to use it, but it was a combination of Outlook, HTML, PGP, IMAP, and NNTP done back in the 1980s. If he can make that sort of leap again, it will be something to reckon with.
    • So what exactly is wrong with Lotus notes ??
      • Re:Mitch Kapor (Score:3, Interesting)

        by blincoln (592401)
        So what exactly is wrong with Lotus notes ??

        Um, everything?

        My biggest complaint is that the interface is completely nonstandard, so nothing is where it would be expected. The designers couldn't even make the password dialogue box a normal one, so you can't tell how many characters you've entered.

        It's also terrible at handling multiple users on the same workstation.
        • Re:Mitch Kapor (Score:3, Insightful)

          by interiot (50685)
          Lotus Domino is like that too... completely nonstandard interface. Granted, some of it is really cool, but the majority of it was just a waste of someone's coding time as they ended up doing windows controls in a slightly different way.
        • Notes is designed to be SECURE...

          If I know that your password is 6 or 7 or 8 characters long, it makes it just that much easier to crack your pw.

          Also, if you lose your private key, nobody can ever read your email.

          Compare this to Exchange/Outlook, where the admins get their rocks off reading people's email.
      • Re:Mitch Kapor (Score:4, Informative)

        by Ami Ganguli (921) on Monday December 23, 2002 @07:13AM (#4943571) Homepage

        Where, oh where to begin...

        As a system integrator it's almost impossible to work with. It encourages free-form text databases. Nice for users, crap for programmers.

        It really sucks because it's easy to use and integrates some nice features automatically. Why does this suck? Because users end up putting valuable company information in there, not realizing that they've locked up the info in a format that's useless to the rest of the company.

        For example, it's really hard getting sales people to keep corporate contact information up-to-date once they've started keeping their contact info in Notes. It's easy for them, they can replicate to their desktop and access the info while they're on the road. It's free form, so they can add comments. Great for sales-people. Sucks for billing when the client has moved and the sales guy who knows about it can't be bothered to update the "real" client database.

        Sorry for the rant, but Notes has cost me a lot of hassle over the years. Truly an awful product.

        • It really sucks because it's easy to use and integrates some nice features automatically
          Wow..

          Is this the fault of the application? Should the user-interface be cryptic and hostile so that people dont use it?
        • Hi!

          As a system integrator

          Ah, that explains it... :-)

          It encourages free-form text databases. Nice for users, crap for programmers.

          Not everything has to be relational and normalised to the nth degree... over time, you'll probably discover that it's horses for courses, and some applications need to be approached in a different way.

          Why does this suck? Because users end up putting valuable company information in there, not realizing that they've locked up the info in a format that's useless to the rest of the company.
          ...
          Sucks for billing when the client has moved and the sales guy who knows about it can't be bothered to update the "real" client database.


          So why not modify the app to also send the info when they're back in the office to the "real" client database? You realise it can use native drivers or ODBC to talk to practically any commercial relational database?
          You realise that you don't have to use the integrated Notes database engine at all if you don't want to?

          Oh well. Excuse my irritability. It's just when most people offer their "opinion" in this area, it's usually 97% prejudice and 3% clue.
        • Re:Mitch Kapor (Score:3, Informative)

          by Griff (17764)
          Sounds like you never really understood Notes.

          For example, it's really hard getting sales people to keep corporate contact information up-to-date once they've started keeping their contact info in Notes. It's easy for them, they can replicate to their desktop and access the info while they're on the road. It's free form, so they can add comments. Great for sales-people. Sucks for billing when the client has moved and the sales guy who knows about it can't be bothered to update the "real" client database.

          Our clients find it really easy. An example (with names changed to protect innocent!):
          An international company has our bespoke CRM system built in Notes deployed in 25 countries over all 6 continents. In each the salesman can update the company name/address on his local replica on his local laptop. When he replicates the database the change gets pushed up on to the server. Each night the nightly integration with their backend AS/400 pushes the change back to their ERP system, where the billing is done.

          In your example your problem was not that the salesmen had a separate clients database. It was having a clients database the salesmen couldn't use the way they needed to, so they had to build another one in Notes.

          Notes is great a solving business problems in a quick and cost-efficient manner. There is nothing like the wow factor of talking to a user in the morning, and showing him a fairly functional prototype in the afternoon.

          Don't get me wrong - Notes/Domino sucks at many things, but as long as you don't ever treat it like a relational database things work fine.

          To truly get the power of Notes, you have to integrate it with the core systems. Or (where it is sensible) run your core systems on Notes.
        • It encourages free-form text databases. Nice for users, crap for programmers.

          God help us if it's nice for the users;-)

          Actually, I think of Notes as being orthagonal to relational databases. Trying to use it to build applications that fit the rdbms application space well is like trying to drive nails wiht a pair of pliers. However, for document and workflow management it works very well.

          For example, it's really hard getting sales people to keep corporate contact information up-to-date once they've started keeping their contact info in Notes. It's easy for them, they can replicate to their desktop and access the info while they're on the road. It's free form, so they can add comments. Great for sales-people. Sucks for billing when the client has moved and the sales guy who knows about it can't be bothered to update the "real" client database.


          Well, as an app developer you have two choices: develop an app that works as well for the end user, or find a way of catching address updates and updating the "main" database. I know which one would be easier for me.
    • Mitch Kapor was also responsible for the promotion of Lotus Notes.

      I'm not sure that Notes was his fault. Wasn't he already out of the day-to-day business of the company when that project started?

      BTW, I will mention also that Lotus CC:Mail was a toy.

      -jcr

  • by lennart78 (515598) on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:00AM (#4943267)
    Evolution is also trying this, and they deliver Exchange connectivity. The KDE group is busy on a groupware solution, and it will shortly be released.

    If you want to use Linux in an office environment, a groupware solution is a must-have. The more people who are working on this subject, the better, in my opinion....
    • Evolution is also trying this, and they deliver Exchange connectivity.

      As someone who uses both Outlook and Ximian [ximian.com] Evolution [ximian.com] extensively, I think that Evolution already beats the crap out of Outlook in speed, usability and features. It still has a few rough edges and some stability problems but it is definately the best email client I have ever used. Of course, it only runs on Linux and Unices at the moment, which doesn't really put it head to head with Outlook. Looks like Kapor is planning to go after M$ on their own platform.

      What is currently missing is a good server side solution (although many people are working on this). Maybe Kapor will create a viable alternative. I just hope he has the good sense to put some serious effort into the design of the client-server protocol and to document it well so that it can be easily integrated into any email client.
  • how many people actually consider an outlook-killer such a killer app as to be worth $5 million?

    Imagine if that got put into something else like OpenBeOS (sure, I'm a bit biased towards BeOS =] )
    • ...anyone who takes the corporate sector seriously?

      Perhaps you cannot grasp the sheer mass of the project. Groupware is HUGE. I can't think of any small+ sized corporations that do not have some kind of internal group-scheduling / tasking / messaging system.

      Could I piecemeal my own? Sure. But it would be costly still and I wouldn't have the interopability nor the years of refinment that has gone into existing products, namely Outlook.

      Clearly, this is not something you can just sit down and code in a few weeks. $5M is a drop in the bucket.
    • how many people actually consider an outlook-killer such a killer app as to be worth $5 million?

      Listen, we're in the dark ages as far as collaboration software goes. The more money that gets thrown at this problem, the better.

      It's not just that there's no good collaboration software out there. It's that nobody even knows how to do collaboration in a way that doesn't absolutely suck. Somebody needs to start at the beginning and ask the questions, "What does it need to do?" and "How does it need to do it?" Nobody has asked those questions in a comprehensive way yet, so we've ended up with glorified email applications like Outlook and Notes that rely on a store-and-forward message-passing system, built around a central server and a lot of caches. All the eggs in one basket, so to speak.

      Somebody needs to take collaboration all the way back to the drawing board. Is Kapor the guy to do it? No idea. But it's good that somebody is trying.
    • how many people actually consider an outlook-killer such a killer app as to be worth $5 million?

      This would be huge in my opinion. While Outlook and Notes have their problems they kick the crap out of any opensource/cross platform offerings at this point (haven't looked at Evolution in a while, so I don't know where it stands). If there were a viable alternative to Outlook+Exchange/Lotus Notes I think plenty of companies would look it adopting it.
  • Prototypes (Score:5, Informative)

    by gnuber (605327) on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:20AM (#4943276)
    One must always be careful in praising vaporware, but the prototypes [osafoundation.org] on the OSAF web site [osafoundation.org] sure look impressive. I am particularly glad they place such a strong emphasis on security [osafoundation.org]! That is an even better reason than MS-loathing to urge Outlook users to switch. OSAF will do the Internet a great service if Vista can cut down the number of Outlook viruses flooding my emailbox every day!
    • by CerebusUS (21051)
      It's not gonna succeed if they keep ripping off Microsoft's Exchange Icon :-)

      example [osafoundation.org]
    • I'm sorry, but they hardly look impressive to me. Take a look at this [gatech.edu], if you are looking for something impressive.

      I'm happy that a celebrity has condescended to write free software, but I am sure the world can do without another Email client with one frame for folders and another for a list of messages.
  • Since when is "Microsoft Outlook shipped with most Windows computers"?

    Seems to me that if Outlook was shipped, Microsoft wouldn't have gone to all the trouble to work Outlook Express into the OS as they have.

    It seems like a well funded project, and seems 'noble' enough, but is it really needed? I just use KMail for e-mail. Even at work where I do use Outlook for Exchange connectivity, we don't really use the Calender features. Maybe if I had a PDA and could sync back and forth, but then I'd have to get used to entering all my appointments into the calender. It's easier to just write it down on a piece of paper or use my brain.

    All I'd really need if I was in a Linux shop would be a mail client that could connect to Exchange (and there are already several projects working on this), but if it were a Linux shop, we wouldn't have Exchange, would we?

    Also, a little off topic, Slashdot is soo slow (so slow as to be unusable) every day from about 2:30 AM to about 3:30 AM [EST].. I had to post this comment twice, since I lost it the first time due to a server timeout.
    • Since when is "Microsoft Outlook shipped with most Windows computers"?

      I think the reporter made a mistake and meant to say Outlook Express, which is shipped with most every PC since it's a part of IE.

      and seems 'noble' enough, but is it really needed? I just use KMail for e-mail. Even at work where I do use Outlook for Exchange connectivity, we don't really use the Calender features. Maybe if I had a PDA and could sync back and forth, but then I'd have to get used to entering all my appointments into the calender.

      So, your argument is that because you don't use Outlook/Exchange for groupware stuff, that no one should? I'm sure there are thousands of sysadmins out there that would love to be freed from maintaining an Exchange server, but there is nothing out there that even comes close to doing the job. Most regular computer users (and especially the decision makers who are the most busy) grow very fond of Outlook's calendering functions. The plain fact is there really is no viable alternative.

      It's easier to just write it down on a piece of paper or use my brain.

      So, that's it. Just convince all those Fortune 500 companies to switch to the high tech "Post-It Note" system. I'm sure 3M has tried that one but was forced to put it on the back burner. Sorry, just because you don't use or appreciate the app doesn't mean that thousands and thousands of office people shouldn't either.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:24AM (#4943280)
    The problem is lack of a groupware SERVER. I've been a linux-on-the-desktop user (no dual-boot) for several years now, and I have worked in several corporate environments. Evolution already has all the client functionality that is needed. Sure, Outlook still has more, but a lot of what Outlook has isn't needed, and much of it (all the macro stuff) is probably more dangerous than useful.


    But, there is NOTHING like Exchange out there in the free software world. Corporate users need group calendaring most of all. I realize that OpenLDAP lets us trade contact info, but the critical thing is group calendaring (which includes task lists). Oh, and the group calendaring has to interoperate with Outlook so that Outlook and non-Outlook users can trade meeting invitations. I think Mr. Kapor should spend a little bit of money on enhancing Evolution and spend the rest on building a great Exchange-killer instead.


    On a side note... it would take very little effort to get Evolution to be able to parse winmail.dat attachments, so that Evolution and Outlook clients could do peer-to-peer exchanges of meetings and tasks. That would be a fantastic step. They can already trade contacts with no problems. Trading calendaring info should be not much more difficult and it would be a tremendous help to letting Evolution sneak into offices.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Actually there is. SuSE has two fine Exchange killers, their email server, and Open Exchange. Both provide calendaring, contacts, meetings, PDA sync, and so forth. What's really sweet is the browser interface, it does away with the need for a standalone mail client. Though you can use an email client if you like. Check em out, they're first rate, and a helluva lot more stable and efficient than damned old Exchange.

      There are quite a few other groupware projects in the pipeline, it's going to bust wide open pretty soon.
    • You might want to check out PHPGroupWare [phpgroupware.org]. Calendar, mail, project management, etc. in one web service system. If I were a corporation, I think I would be interested. If only Free Software projects reached the attention of the people who need it.
    • by Kunta Kinte (323399) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:35AM (#4943424) Journal

      I'm working on the necessary MAPI code to have outlook connect to open source servers, eg. Cyrus, OpenLDAP, etc. but still export all functionality. Have been for a few months now. Haven't got to calendering yet ( still working on the message store), I'm hoping on an alpha code release in late Jan maybe Feburary.

      The truth is the client does most the work not the server. All the server is an IMAP server with a special 'calender' folder that appointments etc. are stored. Cyrus or any other IMAP server would suffice.

      The issue is that Microsoft has made sure that outlook 'MAPI intermediary code' ( in want for a better name ) requires a little more from the server, enough to mean that that code has to be written for the client.

      There are many solutions out there that have written the MAPI dlls necessary. Baynari, Lotus, Samsung, etc. all do this. Hopefully we'll have a GPL version soon.

      Alternatively, theres the iCal spec which is almost done I hear. Unlike the other iCalender specs, it defines the transport protocol ( relies on Beep I believe ). That should be interesting as well.

    • But, there is NOTHING like Exchange out there in the free software world.

      Right! And Chandler's mission is to eliminate the need for things like the Exchange Server. Use P2P and NO server.

  • A prediction (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rhinobird (151521) on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:24AM (#4943282) Homepage
    This will make Wired's 2003 vaporware award. But we won't care cause we'll be using Evolution, Aethera and Kroupware.
  • IMHO (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tgrotvedt (542393)
    Outlook is extremely overrated, people use it simply because it comes with the most widely used desktop OS on the planet. I think Evolution is equal to Outlook (and better because it has none of those vunrabilities).

    I for one think the "Identity/Account" system is one of the most self-contadictory buggy confusing systems in any mail client. It sucks! I think apps like Evolution, KMail, Mozilla Mail, Netscape Communicator and even pine tower over outlook in usability.

    I'm really looking forward to the maturation of the K suite (KOffice), as it works in such harmony with the K environment. As soon as the prones at K ditch XFree86 (a looong way down the track) in favour of a nicer, more responsive light system (ala OS X), I will be home and hosed.

    Outlook has already been "bested", but if Kapor wants to throw another superior client out there, then I'm all for it!

    • by JKR (198165)
      I for one think the "Identity/Account" system is one of the most self-contadictory buggy confusing systems in any mail client.

      Sorry, that's Outlook Express you're talking about - a COMPLETELY different product. Outlook doesn't use identities.

      Jon

  • by DrEldarion (114072) on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:26AM (#4943284)
    It won't work, and for the same reason that people don't switch over from IE. Outlook/IE is the default. It's what came with their computer and they're just too lazy/actually like it/uninformed/used to it to change over.

    Even if it is significantly better, it's not likely to gain much of a hold.

    -- Dr. Eldarion --
    • That wasn't the aim of the project. They don't want to replace Outlook/Exchange, they want to give an alternative for all the users that for one reason or another can't/won't/don't use Exchange.

      eg there are a lot of small businesses and organisations that can't afford to install and/or manage Exchange.
  • It can read and write calendar information to an outlook server. Someone should spend $5 million studying just that, I don't need another mail client no matter how bellsy and whistley.
    • It can read and write calendar information to an outlook server.

      No! The point of Chandler is that it does not need any server. So, people will be able to get all required groupware functionality, without a server.

      • it will not get used!!! The only way for a mail client to spring forth that can truly replace outlook, is to have it have access to all the same information that Outlook does. Then you can sneak it in on a grassroots level. But until it supports reading/writing outlook calendars, it might as well be a large chunk of mud for all the good it does me.

        Innovation only really moves things forward when it provides some tie to the past, at least to start with.
        • it will not get used!!! The only way for a mail client to spring forth that can truly replace outlook, is to have it have access to all the same information that Outlook does.

          For small companies not buying an Exchange server is an option.

          You could also build/sell an interface between the Chandler network and an Exchange Server...(a la stuff from Ximian).

  • On the one hand, I'd really like to see an open source alternative to Outlook--something that fulfills the same functions and is easy for Outlook users to pick up.

    On the other hand, I think Outlook-like programs are prime candidates for breaking with the straight-jacket of Windows-like GUIs. With sustained funding and free from the shackles of backwards compatibility with outmoded paradigms, an open source project, together with some HCI and information retrieval researchers, could really do something ground-breakingly better than anything Microsoft, or anybody else, is delivering.

  • bing (Score:3, Interesting)

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Monday December 23, 2002 @04:54AM (#4943341) Homepage
    Maybe I'm the only one, but I like alt-tabbing between applications. In my last job, I found it a never ending annoyance to not be able to alt-tab between my email and calendar because Outlook is a single program (e.g., you're looking at your 25th email in the inbox, switch to calendar to see if you're available on the date of some lame meeting, remember you forgot to check the time, go back to inbox - scroll down through the junk, find that email again, go back to calendar, it's automatically returned to today's date so you have select the relevent date again, and finally you can check - it's a Royal Pain!) At home, I found Evolution to be similarly annoying. Even if one organization makes a product like this, they should be able to make it act as several components rather than a single program. Then it's just a flash back and forth.
    • Re:bing (Score:2, Informative)

      by dkone (457398)
      2 things:

      1. it is not recommended to use outlook in the pane view for your inbox. This is for security reasons, look into it. (this is not an endorsement for outlook nor an attempt to have a discussion about outlook, just a fact.)

      2. try double clicking on the email that you are reading. then not only can you have both the calendar and the email open, you can alt-tab between them.

      Doug
    • Re:bing (Score:2, Informative)

      Right click on the calendar in Outlook. Select "Open in New Window". Annoyance abated.
  • Maybe if you instead dumped that money into a good cause for the advancment of competing projects [slashdot.org] we wouldn't have Microsoft Outlook as the efault eMail client in the first place. Besides, what makes anyone think thye can tell Microsoft what to do on its own OS? Microsoft sells licenses, albeit a verry disgusting one that Microsoft customers don't read and just select the "I agree" action to install the software. Speak on those merits, emphasize the evil, and give people their options: show them a list of current GUI userfriendl eMail clients. I recommend only implementing hotmail and try to implement yahoo mail interface through an eMail client, but is that asking too much out of the priceless time of my fellow opensource developers?
  • like, great, but (Score:3, Redundant)

    by peterjm (1865) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:27AM (#4943399)
    has he used evolution? it's integration with everything I throw at it is incredible to the point of almost being beyond belief. of his 5 mil that he's got earmarked for this new company, he could probably spend a fraction of that and get evoluition to the point where it could blow any client out of the water hands down.

    hell, he could spend that money to to fund 20 develpopers for 5 years to write a linux compatibilty layer for windoww (think wine, but Line) that would run non-native (linux) evolution faster than that pos that wants to virus me more than a bitter ex-girlfriend.

    anyway, them's just my thoughts and you could be full of it, as my pappy always used to say.
  • by TTL0 (546351) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:28AM (#4943402)
    "We believe what Mitch is doing may catalyze significant for-profit opportunities," Breyer said.

    nice job Breyer, spoken like a true master.

  • by Begs (599325) on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:42AM (#4943442)
    I use Outlook a great deal. I used Ecco before Outlook. I really miss the outlining capability of Ecco. However, in the overall evaluation of things, Outlook is clearly more capable.

    I have tried a few other clients but none had the all-around capability that Outlook has. I often wonder if the folks that diss Outlook here have used it much. I have never had a virus problem, although I had a few close calls that my virus scanner caught. I have had one great debacle when I was fooling around with the pst file about 3 versions ago. It was my fault and it cause me a lot of pain.

    Outlook is much more that just an email client with calendar and contact manager.

    For a time I used Outlook as my desktop. You can launch all your applications from Outlook if you choose to. It works quite effectively. It just turned out to be a little too boring, not enough visual appeal after a number of months. However if you want a sparse no-nonsense desktop Outlook has it.

    Another of the seldom mentioned capabilities of Outlook are the automatic journaling of Office applications and email activity by name date and time. I just wish that could be extended to any application. You can manually journal anything. Outlook can provide journaling reports in multiple formats. This is a lifesaver for me when I do my monthly billing.

    Outlook has alarms for arbitrary uses. It has rules that can automate various filtering and file location tasks.

    Other applications may have some of these maybe even most of these. I don't know of any application that has them all.

    I looked at Evolution. It looks like an Outlook knock-off. Certainly that is somewhat flattering to Outlook's designers. Kapor's effort also looks similar. I wish him luck and ask that he not forget the journaling capability. It would really be great if any application could be registered with the software and have its activity automatically journalized.

    Did I mention easy synchronization with PDA devices? Or, that it can also use "stationery." I haven't personally found a use for this, However, I have received a few messages on "stationery." That's how I learned that it existed.

    In summary, Outlook is useful, robust, very flexible and capable, and pretty secure (a la pgp) if configured as recommended for security and backed by a virus scanner. I depend on it.
  • I've got years of mail archived in .pst format for Outlook. This is what's keeping me from switching my mail over to something on SuSE (or even, God help me, Gentoo). If there's a reliable program that will suck mail out of that file and sort it into the directory structure in which it's currently put, I can finally retire my Office 2000 install.
    • there are several freely available software programs available that parse your PST files and output files that can be imported by other mail programs.

      we had a situation at my last employer where someone had hosed their box pretty badly due to literally 1gig of email. outlook wouldn't open and the PST files were corrupted. after searching around a bit, i found 3 or 4 programs for dealing with this issue.

      poke around on google or freshmeat, i'm sure you'll find something similarly useful.
  • But James Breyer, a longtime Kapor friend, said the OSAF model is a return to the "old-fashioned way" of designing software, in small development teams on tight budgets.

    Wow, $5 million is a "tight budget"?

    Assuming roughly $100K/year per developer (salary plus benefits) and 20% in overhead costs (utilities, office space, etc), that's 20 developers a year for two years. Or 10 developers a year for four years.

    Even if more than 20% of the budget goes to marketing (I don't know if that's applicable in their case, since they're going the free/Free route), underage hookers, or whatEVER, that still seems like a pretty nice budget to work with!

    Whatever the case, best of luck to them, though! :-)
    • If you can tell me how to run a business with only 20% overhead, I'd like to know about it. Employer contributions to Social Security is 7% alone; health insurance can run 10+%; don't even mention 401(k). And that's before you get to office space, computers, and the like.

      You'd be lucky to be burdened at 2x.
  • Quote from the article:

    "It is so easy to distribute free things now," said Esther Dyson, a longtime Internet investor and chairman of EDVenture Holdings in New York. "That's one of the things Napster told us: If people like it, it will spread freely."


    Yeah, we had no idea that was true before Napster.
  • wxWindows / wxPython (Score:3, Informative)

    by ghum (109642) <freedomxx3@19@ghum.spamgourmet@com> on Monday December 23, 2002 @05:51AM (#4943456)
    Robin Dunn [alldunn.com], founder & maintainer of wxPython [wxpython.org], an excellent Python [python.org]-Wrapper around wxWindows [wxwindows.org], anounced in the wxpython-mailinglist that he was contracted by OSAF.

    And who ever has enjoyed wxPython and the excellent support of Robin in the mailinglist knows: he get's things done. Or dunn.
    So... if they don't succeed in travelling to space, at least teflon will be available.
  • What would happen... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by inode_buddha (576844) on Monday December 23, 2002 @06:04AM (#4943480) Journal
    if Mitch Kapor, Ximian, and Mozilla ever got together? With Andy Hertzfeld for lead UI designer?

    Er, sorry bout that, it's late (early?) And I must be dreaming.... good night, all.
    • Maybe they'll drop everything and make a File manager ?
    • Andy Hertzfeld is working with Mitch Kapor on this project.. See here [osafoundation.org] If you look at folders listing you will see.

    • by mccaffer (80806)
      looking at their use of xml tech and the url like nav bar at the top, doesn't their choice of wxwindows seem strange!!??!!!
      I would have thought that what they are attempting to do would be best implemented in mozilla's toolkit. perhaps they could help speed along MRE. I know mozilla can be slow, but the phoenix project has shown that it can be better optimised.
      perhaps with their resources they could help out not just in this application but with others. they themselves wold obviously benefit as mozilla is ported to more platforms.
      so please, OSAF, consider mozilla for your frontend!
    • The ego clash would have such high energy that it'd form a quantum singularity and destroy the earth.
  • by MavEtJu (241979) <slashdot@@@mavetju...org> on Monday December 23, 2002 @06:33AM (#4943498) Homepage
    Cloning Outlook doesn't hurt Microsoft, it's the serverside which should be attacked.

    A couple of weeks ago my boss asked me to find a replacement for the calendar server in Exchange, one which would work with... Outlook.

    Nowhere to be found. I can replace the mail-part very easy (we're already doing that for years), the addressbook is nearly finished now (LDAP rules/sucks :-) but the calendar part of it? It's buried deep in the beast.

    And as long as you can't replace all what an Exchange server does, you won't have a chance in hell to replace Outlook.
  • Lotsa hype. No actual code to be seen. Unfortunately it's likely to be on the "whatever happened to that?" pile before you know it.

    If I'm wrong, great, congrats the world is now better.
  • Mitch Kapor for the best vaporware of 2002!
  • I work with many small businesses where they'd love to have an integrated mail/calendar/todo system but don't have the $ to buy an exchange server (or they're Mac users who don't want to put up with Microsoft's on-again off-again Outlook for Mac crap).

    I'm dreaming of a standards based system where we'll be able to send a cross-platform invite to a meeting (or todo) via email (ala iCal and Mozilla Calendar) in a peer to peer way, yet integrated with mail and a small scale todo/project/PIM system for tasking. Also imagine being able to form up small project group by subscribing to someone else's general or special project calendar or project sub-todo list regardless of platform (except for those Timex-Sinclair OS boys). Note: BTW this is the way we use iCal even in it's current crude state.

    What will make this different? It'll be different if they build in Lotus Agenda-like features. For Pete's sake! Agenda came out in 1988 and no one has every really matched it!
    Huzza! Huzza! Kapor!
    Agenda is dead! Long live Agenda!
    • Now that I have my precious Newton 2100 (which works like a portable version of Lotus Agenda) syncing with iCal (thanks everchanging software!)- theoretically , I'll be able to use it with 'Chandler' since it'll probably use standards based calendar and todo events...
  • I have no doubt that Kapor can produce something that blows away Outlook. What I do doubt, however, is how successful it will be: I think Windows 98 is probably one of the worst operating systems ever. But it still seems to be the number one OS in use. Put simply, a lot of Microsoft products are popular only because they're a global superpower -- it doesn't seem to matter to 90% of the world that there is something much better than what they're using, even if it's free: they either don't know, or don't care.

    Yes, Kapor can likely succeed in surpassing Outlook. And Windows-using Slashdot users might love it. But I think the hardest part, harder even than writing the program, will be getting the 'average' computer users to understand why they should use it. Most people seem to have an 'allegience' to Microsoft, and refuse to believe that anything (especially anything cheaper) could possibly be better.

  • We often deal with small businesses; you know, the small insurance brokers, the 2-partner lawyers, and all the other sorts of small enterprises you'll find in any city, town or village. These people don't use Exchange, they often don't even have their own domain name. They get their email @some.isp.com.

    There is no need for these people to risk using MS Outlook or Outlook Express and we tell them straight out that those two products are responsible for most viruses. At the present time we recommend that they switch to Eudora Light or to Pegasus Mail. Better yet, we advise that they move to a web-mail system.

    One entire school district that we do work for is moving to SquirrelMail and web-based email reading to even further cut down on the exposure to virus attacks. If the attachment never even makes it to your computer, it is highly unlikely to cause problems.

    Evolution (which is what I use both at home and at the office) would fit these users like a glove. It would be nice if Ximian ported this product to the Win platforms; but then again it's nice to have it on Linux in combination with Open Office to demonstrate that small businesses really don't need MS at all.
  • by richieb (3277) <richiebNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday December 23, 2002 @10:29AM (#4944097) Homepage Journal
    The point that everyone seems to be missing is that Chandler is meant to be Exchange Server killer (or any groupware server killer). The big idea is to use a P2P like setup to exchange email, contact and meeting info. Another words have all the groupware functionality, without a groupware server.

    • Outlook has a feature something like this... Instead of querying a central Exchange server to get updated calendar info, changes to calendars are encapsulated in an email which is sent out to everyone else in your workgroup and their copies of Outlook process the data and update their calendars.

      Of course, actually getting it to WORK that way is a different beast altogether... the implementation is flaky and poorly documented and overall seems like it was thrown in as an afterthought.
    • How does one back things up centrally?

      Because you really don't want all 3000 users backing up separately.
  • Novell's GroupWise is a full-featured collaboration suite (and I don't mean just client, but server, too), including document and form management, and a very nice web interface.

    The calendaring and collaboration features of GroupWise beat Outlook+Exchange pants down. Or was it hands down?
    • Re:Already done... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lxy (80823)
      Groupwise isn't perfect. I prefer it over OutHouse, but it's just as restricitive as OutHouse/Exchange. You need a Novell server, you need to pay Novell gobs of money for proprietary software, all to get a package that's incompatible with everything else. It keeps us safe from OutHouse virus attacks, but that's really it's only strong point. The web interface is mediocre at best, and some of the widgets on the client act a little funny. I had a feature wish list I came up with after 2 years of using Groupwise, of course I can't find it now.

      Some of the features I like are unique to Groupwise, but on the whole it's everything bad about Exchange wrapped into a different propritary license. The same can be said for Lotus Notes, it has its nice features and it's not M$, but you still have proprietary incompatible software as your mail client.
  • Enhanced IMAP (Score:3, Interesting)

    by swb (14022) on Monday December 23, 2002 @11:06AM (#4944312)
    All the groupware products seem to rely on some proprietary protocol between the client and the server for their native, feature-rich behavior.

    I'd like to see the IMAP protocol expanded so that it could perform most of these tasks. Outlook and Exchange are most of the way there, except for the ability to use your calendar or do things like busy searches.

    An expanded IMAP protocol (if it was open) would allow for non-"rich" clients to still work and participate meaningfully; calendar should be a folder that displays appointments in a human-readable format, with the idea that a 'rich' client would parse it into whatever GUI or textmode the user wanted.

    We'd end up at a place where, instead of having to buy and use one client and one server product, it'd be possible to mix-match based upon what you wanted.

    Unfortunately I think that the whole groupware trend is headed to the web and no one wants to invest in a whole lot of client-side technologies.
    • All the groupware products seem to rely on some proprietary protocol between the client and the server for their native, feature-rich behavior.

      That's because no settled free protocols are available. iCal from the IETF iCalender group is going to fix that. Should be out soon, I heard it's close.

      I'd like to see the IMAP protocol expanded so that it could perform most of these tasks.

      This is not necessary. A new protocol is probably a better idea. Why increase the complexity of implementing a IMAP client/server for everyone?

      ...calendar should be a folder that displays appointments in a human-readable format,...

      That's kinda what Outlook does. The issue is that it's not human-readable, it's an undocumented part of MAPI that's been partially reverse engineered. But if you what 'just' an exchange replacement, you really don't care about the binary format, as long as your IMAP server can store it.

      Unfortunately I think that the whole groupware trend is headed to the web and no one wants to invest in a whole lot of client-side technologies.

      Most of those issues will go away shortly. Alot of work on calender is being done in many groups. I'd say wait 6 months before making that accessment.

      • This is not necessary. A new protocol is probably a better idea. Why increase the complexity of implementing a IMAP client/server for everyone?

        Assuming there was a new IMAP server available that was capable of performing tasks like busy searches and handling some of the groupware data (which is almost always calendaring data as well), why would having that ability make implementing it any more complex?

        No one would force you to *use* the groupware aspects (which would be nothing more than a set of IMAP boxen the IMAP server could peer into), and I'd guess that even a package like this could be built with some kind of --no-groupware switch to leave you with whatever the current mail-only standard was.

        A new protocol is a new protocol -- new daemons, security changes, system directories, ad nauseum. So much of what will get done and the interaction between client and server is just the kind of thing that IMAP does now. The only thing IMAP doesn't do now is calendar searches and mailbox parsing (eg, to present ~/mail/calendar in some human readable but locally parseable format).

        You'd still need a mechanism for handling extra-machine functionality (eg, user@a searching user@b's calendar) which might be SMTP between boxen to an IMAP-handled box. LDAP could be the directory server.

        Most of those issues will go away shortly. Alot of work on calender is being done in many groups. I'd say wait 6 months before making that accessment. [about calendaring going to the web]

        Somebody may do something really interesting on the client, but then the answer becomes "What client?" Win32 is the obvious answer for installed base, but Linux is a result for a lot of open-source projects, but then there's Mac OS/OS X...anyway, the soup gets thick quickly. A web client reaches all users with far less development than a standalone client, with far quicker rollout and simpler updates. OWA, Horde, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc have all demonstrated that you can do it on the web with a high ROI.

        Don't get me wrong, I personally prefer a web-based client, but how many people under 25 on the web ever use anything *but* a web client for ANY email? Ask yourself what they'll expect let alone tolerate...
  • Will it have all the important features that users demand? Is it 100% virus compatible? Microsoft works hard to expand Outlook's virus compatibility, going from JavaScript virii, EXE virii, VB virii, and soon VB.NET virii will be implemented. Who knows what lies next? Virii that you don't even have to open the e-mail to take affect?

    How does this guy think he can possibly compete?

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