IBM/Lotus has released a new line of Express software that it claims will be an "Exchange killer", referring to the competing product from Microsoft.

The company's Domino Messaging Express is the third tool in the Express line and includes e-mail, group scheduling, discussion forum and document library features. It does not support application deployment, however, for which the older Domino Collaboration Express, introduced last year, will have to be used.

The third member of the Domino Express lineup is Utility Server Express, which also was introduced last year and is designed to run Web-based applications.

"We think Domino Messaging Express compares in features and price with Exchange," says Art Fontaine, senior marketing manager for IBM/Lotus. Fontaine says that Microsoft's troubles with introducing its Licensing 6.0 and Software Assurance program, which has alienated many users, presents an opportunity for Lotus to win converts. "There are not a lot of new customers out there, so we are stealing each other's users."

For its part, a Microsoft spokesperson said: "Small and medium-sized customers value the lower total cost of ownership Exchange 2003 provides through easy deployment and improved security, reliability, management and accessibility." The spokesman said those features lead to "productivity gains for information workers and IT administrators".

Microsoft has recently changed the focus of Exchange back to being a pure messaging server and left collaboration and application development to other parts of its Windows Server System infrastructure. The company last year released Exchange Server 2003, focusing on performance, security, and anti-spam features.

A recent report by the Radicati Group predicts over the next four years that Lotus will lose market share as the Workplace platform is under development. Radicati says Lotus' market share will fall from 24 percent to 17 percent in 2008, while Microsoft's will grow from 31 percent to 33 percent.

Domino Messaging Express supports both the Notes client and Microsoft Outlook, as well as a variety of Web browsers and standards-based POP3 and IMAP e-mail clients. It runs on Linux, Windows and OS/400. Exchange runs on Windows and uses Outlook and Internet Explorer as its client software.

Users migrating from a different platform can get Messaging Express for $48 per user, including the server software. For new users, the price is $98 per user.