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Microsoft woos Notes users with tools and templates

It's becoming an annual ritual. Like last year, Microsoft will unveil mail migration tools for Exchange on the eve of IBM's big collaboration confab, Lotusphere.

Microsoft this week said it will release a suite of migration tools to help IT shops that want to move off of IBM's Notes/Domino and templates for two of Microsoft's other collaboration platforms to help create applications.

The first of the releases, Microsoft Transporter Suite for Lotus Notes, is a tool that helps move data out of Notes and onto SharePoint Services 3.0. The second tool, Role Based Templates for SharePoint My Sites, helps create custom portals. And a third release, Windows Sharepoint Server 3.0 Application Templates, assists in creating custom applications. These releases will be available for download on TechNet within 30 days, Microsoft said.

Last year on the eve of IBM's Lotusphere, Microsoft also released a suite of tools to make it easier for IT shops to migrate off of Domino/Notes. One expert said this recent suite offers some improvements over what was released then.

"There are some improvements on existing tools and some new features, such as access control list [ACL] migration utilities that folks have been asking for," said Matt Cain, an analyst at Gartner Inc., a research firm based in Stamford, Conn.

Karen Hobert, an analyst at Burton Group, a Midvale, Utah, consultancy, agreed that Microsoft's release is a bit more fleshed out this year than it was last year. "This is kind of typical of Microsoft," she said. "Last year [Microsoft] developed the tools, then threw them over the wall to see how they were perceived by the [Lotus user] community," Hobert said.

In response to some criticism from customers, Microsoft created tools that allow users to get a much better snapshot of the applications and then migrate the data more easily from the Lotus platform to the Exchange platform, Hobart said.

Typically, Microsoft has its most success getting Notes shops to migrate to Exchange in situations where the enterprise only uses Notes for email, versus in shops that use full Notes/Domino functionality.

Erik Ashby, a Microsoft senior product manager said one of the biggest improvements to the suite is the unification of everything into one unit called the Transporter Suite. The templates for portals and for applications are separate from the tools.

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