Many of you have been following the five part blog series that has spelled out some of the technical decisions and choices that have been made or considered regarding the next major release of GroupWise. As you all know, the code name for that release is Windermere. It is scheduled to release by the end of the year and authorized beta is expected to expand in June. The product has been in an SDK/API beta since January.
A new major release of the product is always exciting! There are always lots of expectations for new functionality and capability. Novell wants to make sure our customers are receiving value for their maintenance investment and that they are continually seeing progress on multiple fronts.
Windermere has been positioned and engineered to deliver a very robust set of functionality that will provide a solid foundation to align our engineering efforts with a more aggressive release cycle as the demands from our customers continue to outpace availability. Here are the main set of features and functionality coming in Windermere:
Active Directory Support
GroupWise will expand directory support to include eDirectory, Active Directory, or no directory. This is actually a return to GroupWise roots. GroupWise was originally designed and delivered as a directory agnostic email solution. Many GroupWise customers will see little impact to their architecture and they will simply continue to use eDirectory. Upgrades to Windermere are expected to be as simple and straight forward as moving from GroupWise 8 to GroupWise 2012.
Allowing GroupWise to leverage Active Directory meshes well with the recently released functionality of the GroupWise Coexistence Solution for Exchange. This change allows our customers the flexibility they need to standardize their directory infrastructure and integrate our applications with other data center requirements.
GroupWise will deliver the POA, MTA, GWIA, and other server side components in 64-bit versions only. There will be no 32-bit versions of these server components. This will require that your server OS/platform is running 64-bit. Novell recommends that you upgrade to a 64-bit platform NOW instead of waiting to upgrade both the platform and the version of GroupWise when Windermere ships. This will minimize downtime and increase the confidence that your upgrade will go smoothly. There are more details about 64-bit agents and utilities in this blog post. This puts GroupWise on current hardware/OS configurations and allows our customers to stay current with both their applications and the platforms they run on.
New Admin Console
GroupWise Windermere will no longer utilize ConsoleOne for its administration console. ConsoleOne will not be supported in Windermere. The new Administration service and console will be web based. This will remove several dependencies and allow administrators more flexibility and freedom to manage the GroupWise system from essentially anywhere they have a browser. This move puts GroupWise on current technologies and provides solutions to our customers that can be more easily supported, deployed, and enhanced.
Fresh/New GroupWise Windows Client
The GroupWise Windows client has gone through a very strategic face lift. Modernizing the interface to adhere with more current interface design and practice gives GroupWise a fresh look and feel. While keeping with the underlying familiarity, the client will look like other software products our end users deploy and use. New fonts, softer edges, fewer borders, new icons, softer colors, less harsh contrasts, and eye focusing concepts to allow the user to see and act on the information that is highlighted, selected, and being worked on. The Human Factors and User Design teams have provided significant guidance and excellent design. Customers should find the Windermere Windows Client to be new, but not require training to be able to deploy and enjoy!
New Usability Changes
While large new client side features has not been the goal or objective of Windermere, improving the usability of the high traffic areas of the users experience has been a significant focus. Changes to the compose and read views will delight users as many of the common tasks have been simplified, redesigned, better presented, and are easier to use. Name completion now shows a list of contacts that match as you begin to type a contact name, frequently used contacts can be selected without every using the keyboard, From/CC/BC fields are optional instead of standard and easily toggled on/off. Signatures are added to the message body by default and easily edited or removed. Reply/Forward options can be changed at any time while responding to a message. Decisions made when begining to compose a response can easily be toggled to other options…like reply can easily be changed to reply to all or back again. A reply can change to a forward and easily add or remove the original message text. Forward or Forward as Attachment can also change easily after the fact or at any time before the message is sent. Options will slide in from the right and the attachment control will appear or slide away to allow the user to focus on the message.
Message triage has also been improved. While dragging and dropping messages to other folders may be your method for sorting your inbox, you will now be able to easily move messages to your most recently used folders using just a click of the mouse on the toolbar or menu. Allowing you to not have to continually search for a folder in the folder tree or move your mouse and eyes from one side of the screen to the other.
The GroupWise WebAccess experience will largely stay the same, but there have been a few significant changes to the WebAccess experience. Auto-refresh has been added to the message list, Calendar, and Contacts. This will allow WebAccess users to see new messages as soon as they arrive and not have to manually refresh the message list. Changes made in other clients will automatically reflect in the WebAccess interface.
Many of our customers and end users are expanding their use of IMAP to get access to their email. The performance of our IMAP implementation has also gone through some significant changes that will improve the reliability, performance, and overall throughput for IMAP access to your mailbox. A new caching model has been implemented and we expect significant performance and usability improvements.
While not EVERY change or enhancement has been cataloged in this blog, the major areas and themes have been covered. The team is looking forward to Windermere and is very excited to get into beta so that more of you can experience the changes first hand and help us polish any rough edges.
On a personal note, my corporate mailbox has been running on a 64-bit Windermere POA for several months. I was able to update my GroupWise Windows Client to the Windermere version in late March. I run in caching mode and my desktop OS is Windows 8. The experience is very stable and while I admit it has not been ‘crash free’, my productivity has increased and the product we all use and depend upon daily is better than ever!