Friday, June 17, 2011

LotusLive vs. Office 365: Trial 2 (Email)

Now that I have my five test users in both Office 365 and LotusLive, the first thing I would expect an organization to want to do is start communicating.  With the exception of maybe the most advanced social businesses, the dominant mode of business communication today is still email.

Both offerings provide you with a link to access your web based email in just one click from the landing page after signing in.  Their interfaces are similar enough in that you have an Inbox, Drafts, Sent Items, Trash, and Spam/Junk on the left side in the typical location.  The main pane opens to your Inbox in a list format.

Office 365 displays a preview of the selected message, in just the same way that Outlook does.  LotusLive does not have a preview from the list view by default.

LotusLive provides tab style links at the top of the user interface to quickly access your individual Contacts, Calendar, and Preferences.  There does not appear to be any facility for ToDo’s within your Mail.  (This functionality can be performed elsewhere in LotusLive.)


Office 365 also provides quick access to your Calendar and Contacts, but in line with your other left-hand navigation.  In addition to the common features, Office 365 presents the users with Tasks (or ToDo’s) right in the mail interface, just like their rich client. (Outlook)


Web-based email has become more feature rich, both in on-premise products and in freely available products.  We expect common features like flag for follow-up, spell checking, folder management, search capabilities, attachment handling, and others I am sure to be missing.  This list of features is present in both solutions and intuitive enough to use, in my opinion.

That said, web based email is not realistic for laptop users who need access to email while off-line or disconnected.  Both LotusLive and Office 365 state they support Outlook as a rich client, so I will try to configure Outlook 2010 to access both and contrast the experience.

Here is the video of setting up Outlook for Office 365. 

Before I started configuring Outlook for LotusLive, I found the help documentation to explain how to do it here.  The instructions indicated you needed to supply your IMAP/SMTP server information in the format of  This was not very intuitive to me, but fortunately, IBM supplies this information in the Administration section of LotusLive.  To locate your server information, log into LotusLive and enter the Administration area.  Click on iNotes on the left hand side, and locate your server information at the bottom of the page.


Armed with the nitty-gritty, it was time to get to work.  Here is the video of me configuring Outlook for LotusLive.

Both solutions support Outlook 2010 as advertised.

Office365 provides your organization with GAL features like an on-premise deployment of Exchange would, where LotusLive does not.  You still have access to personal contacts, and calendaring with both services.  I would imagine the delegation of email and calendaring to function when using Office365, but it does not work when using LotusLive as your back-end.  This is because LotusLive simply provides IMAP (inbound) and SMTP (outbound) basic services for the Outlook client, while Office365 is powered by Exchange.

For basic email functionality, taking your own email off-line, and the ability to use Outlook (which may already be on your system), either service is sufficient.  If you are looking for a similar experience to running Exchange within your organization, but do not have the facilities or skills to do so on your own, Office365 gives you a very viable alternative.


  1. I'd like to see more discussion of the features of the e-mail client itself. For example, does LotusLive include integrated presence or IM? S/MIME? Information rights management? It would be useful to see how the two web clients compare, as well as how each compares with its desktop sibling (e.g. Outlook vs OWA, LotusLive vs the full Notes client).

  2. @1 - I am comparing the entry level of both products. LotusLive iNotes is not built on Domino, but some other technology. Ofice365, even at it's entry level is built on Exchange. They also provide Lync in this product as IBM provides Sametime as well in the competitive product. I would like to go into more depth as I review the features, but should level set expectations. You are right, in that the integration will also be a differentiator.

    Keep the input coming. If you find any other content out there to also support my efforts here, I would appreciate it!

  3. David,

    Not being a big fan of Windows anymore I can tell you that getting both LotusLive and Office365 wokring on a Mac (or iPad/iPhone) is also very easy. We use it daily

    Mac mail/ical and addressbook work also within 2 minutes with both Saas products. So there is no need for Outlook 2007/2010

    You should try a Mac (or iPad/iPhone) also ! ;-)


  4. I have been quite happy with LotusLive. I make use of the LotusLive notes product. It has a much more mature web interface and you can add traveler or BES to sync with iPhone, Android, Nokia, Blackberry.

  5. Comparing the LotusLive iNotes product to office 365 mail is not fair or accurate. This product isn't even being pushed by IBM anymore and will most likely go away. LotusLive Notes is what you should be reviewing.

  6. @5 - At the time I started this, when I went to LotusLive and signed up for a trial account, the LotusLive iNotes product was all that was available in trial. Likewise, when I signed up for my free trial of Office 365, I selected the option for small business or individual to try and keep things the same. I completely agree with you that the LotusLive Notes product (which is based on Notes/Domino for email and has more features than Outlook/Exchange in the form of widgets and side-bar apps) is a better comparison, but this is what IBM was putting forward as their trial product for users to base their purchase on as opposed to the LotusLive Notes product. I also know that LotusLive Notes did no support IMAP (Outlook) at first. Not sure if that is still the case, but for the die-hard Outlook users... that would be a road block they would not be willing to overlook in the pre-sale phase. I am not saying I have the answers, but I am merely going through an exercise that a lot of my customers have been/are doing right now. This is representative of their experiences, not my own preferences.

  7. Agreed. We have been evaluating Office 365 and LotusLive. We have determined that the LotusLive Notes for Web is what we must compare because of the need for a hybrid environment, but IBM does not provide a trial of this product. I cannot compare apples to apples without it.