HCL modernizes Notes by adding 2023's hot new item ... mail merge?

Version 14 of venerable Domino groupware suite and its client debuts

Hello, dear [READERNAME], The Register today brings you the news that the heir to Lotus Notes has added the ability to mail merge emails.

The groundbreaking new feature came in an update to HCL Notes released last week, alongside version 14 of the Domino groupware server.

"Groupware" is what enterprise collaboration tools were called before they were overtaken by intranets, which in turn were overtaken by SharePoint, before it was challenged by Atlassian. And then Microsoft gave the world Teams to trump the rise of standalone vidconf clients.

Notes offered a client and a server – the latter named "Domino" to avoid confusion as Notes dominated the groupware market in the mid-1990s. IBM, which still cared about PCs at the time, acquired Lotus, the developer of Notes, for $3.5 billion – at the time the most ever spent to acquire a software biz.

Big Blue milked the suite for the next 18 years, before all-but-acknowledging it had become legacy software by handing it off to India's HCL in 2017.

HCL has proven a fine steward of the product, updating it regularly with more than token upgrades.

Version 14, delivered last week, adds modern niceties such as passkey authentication, a no-code development environment, better source control for custom apps built on the platform, and self-healing server clusters.

There are also some additions that feel like they've taken way too long to land – such as auto-downloading patches with scheduled installation and closer integration with group calendaring.

And then there's that mail merge feature in Notes. The functionality has been present – if not pleasant – in Microsoft Outlook for ages. Mail merge appears not to have been a native feature of Notes though. In 2020 HCL noted a user request for the feature and has now delivered. So this is quite a milestone release!

As we reported when HCL released a Domino 14 beta back in June, there's also some pain for users because a change in the supported version of Java – from 1.8 to 17 – means custom apps will need to be checked for compatibility. On the client side, Notes is now exclusively 64-bit, meaning some add-ons and integrations may not work – including antivirus software.

The Register readers presumably know the importance of defense in depth and would not be left exposed by a mail client, even at a time when inboxes are replete with phishing lures.

HCL has also updated its Sametime video and audio meeting tool – adding an admin dashboard, an analytic dashboard, more privacy settings, the option to employ complex passwords, and what HCL has described as "the long-requested features to support reactions and allow for message deletion."

It's hard to see any of the above features prompting users of Zoom, or Teams, to start making plans for a Domino migration. HCL probably won't mind that, as legacy software tends to be profitable. Users, meanwhile, likely appreciate that a platform they've relied on for years isn't being left to decay. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like