Back in May of 2006, I wrote about the fact that Ken Muir had taken over the GroupWise product at Novell and how his presence there alone caused us to place on hold our disdain for their flagship collaboration product.
Today, Ken commented on that post and asked if I'd provide an update on our experience with GroupWise since 7.0 SP1. Despite my other issues with Novell's general direction and execution, as hoped, GroupWise has been polished into a state nearly befitting a crown jewel.
We run GroupWise 7.0 SP1 exclusively on Linux, and since my days here, our GroupWise systems have never been as stable or feature rich. SP1 was a home run for Ken and his team, proving that he's able to lead and deliver excellence in both gilded halls and gloomy basements.
As you've no doubt read, I've converted to a MacBook Pro recently...it's now my sole production computer. I've cleared my desk of the IBM T42p, the docking station, second monitor, external keyboard and mouse, etc., in favor of two cables - the Mag Safe power supply, and my external speakers. Sure, I had to deploy 802.11g access points, but people have been asking for that anyway (grin).
The Mac client for GroupWise isn't bad per se, but it's not on-par with the features in the Windows GW7 client. It's very much like GW 6.5 on Windows, but slower (thanks again, Java). I know Ken intends for GroupWise to be feature-identical on all platforms, and I sincerely hope that happens soon with a native-binary version of GW on OSX. I must however say that a recent e-mail discussion with Novell's John Dragoon was a bit more tepid toward Mac's than Ken and his group. Ken, I sincerely hope the pro-Mac mindset prevails - at least until SLED is a realistic competitor in the non-Windows space.
During the Mac evaluation, I was using their native Mail application (along with Mac's iCal and Address Book) over IMAP. I was frustrated by the way iCal in particular looked for appointments from Mail, and quickly found myself missing features like "Forward as Attachment". What GW lacks in visual appeal, it more than makes up for in functionality.
I wasn't in attendance at BrainShare this year, so I cannot speak to the new release of GroupWise and what it intends to do with regard to Exchange/Outlook feature parity and collaboration in general (much more important than keeping up with the Redmond Joneses to me). Ken provided some links, which I've included below, for those who may find themselves among the masses abandoning the S.S. Microsoft.
GroupWise "Bonsai" Demos - http://www.gwava.com/gwavacast/?p=14
Friday BrainShare 2007 Keynote w/ GW Demo - http://www.novell.com/brainshare/general_sessions07.html (about 1:10 minutes into the stream)
Per Ken, "As always, you and all customers have an open line to me. email@example.com"
Ken remains excited for Novell's future, and in so far as he's able to rally people elsewhere in the company around his principles and standards, he's probably right to be. There's still a very, very long row to hoe in Utah.