Microsoft Corp. will follow on last week's shipment of Exchange 5.0 with an upgrade due later this year that includes a more robust server and new component versions of the platform's Outlook client.
The Redmond, Wash., developer is planning to turn the E-mail and groupware features of Outlook into ActiveX components for Internet Explorer, said sources close to the company last week at Internet World here.
On the back end, the next version of the Exchange server will support IMAP (Internet Messaging Access Protocol) 4, improved scalability and tight integration with Windows NT 5.0. In addition, Microsoft is actively considering support for JavaBeans on the server, sources said.
Java-based client components also are quietly under development, according to sources.
Microsoft will consolidate the Active Data Object API for SQL Server and the Active Messaging API for Exchange into one API, allowing developers to write applications that can access data from both sources.
Microsoft joins Lotus Development Corp. and Oracle Corp. in adding flexibility to its groupware with components.
Both Microsoft and Lotus plan to tightly integrate Web site-building software and Internet development tools into their respective groupware platforms.
Microsoft last week announced a discussion wizard for FrontPage and discussion controls in the InterDev development environment. Threaded discussions in Exchange's public folders are a key groupware feature. Officials also hinted full FrontPage capabilities may eventually merge with Exchange.
"That's the direction," said Greg Lobdell, group product manager for Exchange. "We do see bringing collaboration applications and Internet tools together."
Lotus will bundle a new version of its Web building software, Domino.Action 2.2, into Domino this summer. Version 2.2, due in June, will allow users to preview sites before they are created.
A new tool called Webcutter, also to be bundled, will give users graphical maps of Web sites and the links that exist between them.
Lotus, of Cambridge, Mass., also announced plans for a version of Domino.Broadcast for Marimba Inc.'s Castanet content delivery environment.
Microsoft and Lotus have more competition coming from Oracle, which previewed its Java E-mail applet and InterOffice 4.1, with support for Post Office Protocol 3, IMAP and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, on the client side, for shipment in the May time frame.
The groupware upgrade also will ship with a Web software development kit that lets users develop Java applets for network computers, a workflow engine and the ability to access document management features from a browser.