Just 'Round the Corner

Calling it a “Notes killer” may be premature, but Tahoe — the new kid on the block — is ready to rumble.

Could it be? Yes it could.
Something’s coming, something good.
If I can wait…

Something’s coming, I don’t know what it is,
but it is gonna be great.

With apologies to West Side Story, this mantra gets served up in different flavors to consumers, businesses and IT geeks alike. “Just trust us,” Microsoft is telling us. “You’re gonna love the next one. It’s so much better than all those older products.”

The “it” Auntie’s talking about here is a Microsoft server product code named Tahoe. Per Redmond’s press releases, it’s a combination intranet portal, document-management tool, and platform for collaborative application development. Apparently, it can whip up a nifty crème brulee, arrest male pattern baldness, and find an equitable solution for peace in the Middle East.

So what is Tahoe, anyway, and why should we care? Let’s be blunt: Tahoe is the unofficial Microsoft “Let’s Kill Notes” product for the millennium.

Microsoft is clearly offended that Notes shops haven’t — by now — all but dumped their databases and dropped their Notes apps in lieu of SQL Server stores and/or Exchange/Outlook public-folder-based applications. Remember when Exchange was touted as the ideal platform for collaboration? It’s not. A public folder is not a relational database, no matter how many times you wave a magic wand over it. Building collaborative apps using the public store is clunky. Workflow control is rudimentary, and document versioning is pathetic.

This girl’s not a huge Notes fan — it’s that weird Notes GUI. So there are a few reasons I’m keeping an eye on Tahoe:

  • Robust indexing — Tahoe incorporates Microsoft’s latest indexer and search engine, which are fast and versatile.

  • Web-based store — Tahoe uses the Web Storage System, which shows up in Exchange 2000 as the Exchange Installable File System (ExIFS), and which will be part of Office 10, also due out someday. The WSS is a nifty place to dump any kind of content, and it ties nicely into IIS so that Web-based access to the store is speedy.

Tahoe is a department-level solution, and that’s another reason Ms. Pea’s paying attention. I can see a number of my own customers being interested in Tahoe for no other reason than the fact that individual departments will be able to access and control their own data more readily than if it were immersed in an enterprise-wide solution.

And did I mention that Tahoe can use Notes databases as external data sources?

If Tahoe sells, it won’t sell as a Notes killer. It’ll sell as a departmental portal-in-a-box, used primarily for centralized document management and searching. That’s the money proposition and the most likely successful niche for Tahoe: common storage and knowledge management for small- to medium-sized workgroups. The only Notes Tahoe will kill will be Auntie’s ill-fated attempts to screech show tunes for my darling Fabio.

So, don’t be surprised if your customers get interested in Tahoe. Play with the beta and you’ll see why before they do.

About the Author

Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.

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