February 28, 1996 4:30 PM PST

AT&T dumps Network Notes

AT&T is dumping its highly touted AT&T Network Notes project in favor of the Internet, a decision that spells a major setback for Lotus Development's Notes groupware and an expensive change of course for AT&T.

The official announcement is expected later this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

AT&T Network Notes, which the company had labored on with its partner Lotus since 1994, was designed to give users the benefits of Notes groupware while freeing them from the hassle of maintaining their own Notes server. Instead, Network Notes allowed them to dial into a public Notes server to access data, discussion forums, and email. But the service failed to win support among its target audience of business customers.

Since 1994, Internet protocols and software such as Web browsers, have largely eclipsed the proprietary Notes environment as tools for collaboration, according to AT&T.

"Network Notes was designed as a proprietary network two years ago, but the marketplace is telling us that they want open systems such as the Internet," said company spokesperson Janet Stone. "The proprietary Network Notes platform is not what the majority of customers want. We'll be redeploying the services in our Easy Commerce [division] for the Internet."

Network Notes had been managed by AT&T's Easy Commerce Services division, headed by vice president Kathleen Earley. Easy Commerce Services announced plans at Fall Comdex to let corporations open Web sites on servers maintained by AT&T, a service similar to Network Notes. AT&T yesterday also launched its dial-up, consumer-oriented Internet-access service called WorldNet.

The demise of Network Notes parallels the fate of another AT&T online service, AT&T Interchange, which was recently scrapped as a proprietary service and moved to the Web.

AT&T officials said the company has no plans to kill another proprietary service, AT&T NetWare Connect Services (ANCS), which connects disparate NetWare LANs.


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