Lotus Notes vs. Outlook – differencebetween.net – Online Reply

There is a post on a web site Difference Between that is just poor. I don’t know how it counts as anything.

This article goes over the difference between Lotus Notes and Microsoft Outlook and it fails miserably doing so. Clearly the person writing the article has never used either product and just started playing with IT in the last few minutes. Here is my reply to that article.

I am using what I know with 25 years of IT experience to back it up.

MS Outlook vs Lotus Notes head to head….toe to toe

“Before one decides where to host his emails, there are a lot of choices that one is bound to face on flexibility, accessibility and whether it serves the purpose that it is being desired for and any other information that is necessary. We take a look at the two major mails: the MS Outlook and Lotus Notes.”


Frankly I have no idea what the author is talking about? It’s just a bunch of words that contain Outlook and Lotus Notes?

Both tools do the same things. They do mail, calendars, and tasks (to-do’s) Both do these things, but this is where the two part ways. Outlook is good at one thing….it’s a mail client. If you want to chat or instant message someone or work with applications you will need more products. If we look at the two on only what Outlook does then it’s a pretty fair match. But if we look at the two products on what Lotus Notes is capable of then the Outlook will loose that fight every single day. Outlook is just a mail client when Lotus Notes is so much more.

What does Outlook do?

  • Mail – New Mail, Reply, Forward
  • Calendar and Meetings
  • Tasks
  • Simple and effective mail client

What does Lotus Notes do?

  • Mail – New Mail, Reply, Forward
  • Calendar and Meetings
  • To-do’s
  • Instant Messaging
  • Application Development and access


“The MS Outlook is one of the most widely used email accounts by today’s business world which, being hosted by Microsoft, stands out as one of their hottest property on the market while Lotus Notes is mainly hosted by the IBM Lotus Domino as its main server. This can mean that since Microsoft products are being used widely in the market, MS Outlook stands as the more easily accessible of the two.”

The first line of this statement is wrong. The most widely used mail client today in the world is Lotus Notes.

Trying to get those numbers for either company is impossible as they total them differently. Microsoft likes to count every Outlook client they have installed or bundled with any new Windows PC along with every business license sold too. So if you purchased a PC then wiped it and put on your copy of Outlook you purchased Microsoft counts that as 2 license sold which is wrong but elevates the numbers. They have been doing this and counting every Outlook client sold since 1997 when it came out not matter if they are in use or not.

IBM actually uses the support model to know who is using it. So every year they have companies they buy support and this is how they count Lotus Notes clients which is really how any decent company would do it. I think at one time, and they still may be doing it, Lotus was giving away Lotus Notes to use but since they have some ethics they never counted that as seats being used.

In the US Lotus Notes growth is not growing at all. I think last I heard it was shrinking. But globally and especially in Asia Lotus Notes is outpacing Outlook like crazy. Overall in the world the most widely used mail system is Lotus Notes and Domino. Then you take companies like Panasonic (Japan) who have over 600,000 Lotus Notes users and you have to wonder why? Lotus Notes is still the world leader even with Microsoft efforts to try to fudge the numbers in their favor. Right now the largest concentration of Lotus Notes/Domino shops are still in Japan and Germany.

All that said Microsoft’s back end server is Exchange, while IBM’s back end server is Domino. I have no clue how he comes to the conclusion that Microsoft’s software is more accessible. Without a mail client you can’t access either one.

If you want to run these things this is what you will need and why Microsoft makes for a big huge mess in the end…

Microsoft World:

  • Mail – Exchange Server
  • Collaboration/Application – Shareport Server
  • Mail Client – Outlook
  • Chat – Lync Server
  • Mobility – Exchange Mobility Server

Lotus/IBM World:

  • Mail – Domino Server
  • Collaboration/Applications – That same Domino Server
  • Mail Client – Lotus Notes
  • Chat – Built into Lotus Notes + Sametime Server
  • Mobility – Domino Server

Data Storage

“Outlook stores its information in its data files, which is accessible through the PST format while Lotus Notes stores its data in the NSF files, which is accessible in the NSF format”

Well seems he did get one thing right. How the files are stored. I could get into why one format is better than the other but let’s all agree that a database is better for searching vs. a flat file and if we can accept that the the NSF or Lotus Notes wins all day long. Not to mention each NSF on the Domino server is separate and stand alone while the mail files on Exchange are one large chuck or a flat file mess. I don’t see how Exchange wins that one at any point in time.

“Lotus Notes is expensive when the subject of cost and maintenance is brought to mind. In order for one to use the Lotus Notes it is appropriate to note that you have to purchase the Lotus application to host your mails, which is quite the opposite when it comes to Outlook that comes in free though you might need to have already installed some little applications for a complete account.”

Both are expensive. I don’t have the actual costs of each but at the end of the day they are both expensive items to own. You have to buy the client licenses and then the back end components as well. Support models are very different. IBM charges per license and  for site license while Microsoft charges for each seat at the time of purchase and each upgrade as well as for support calls. IBM will charge you once for support and you can call as much as you like. You have to keep in mind you are getting more for your money with a Lotus Notes client vs. Outlook. There are applications in there and instant messaging which are completely separate items in the Microsoft world.

In the end it’s an enterprise messaging solution and it’s going to be expensive. I think for the money the IBM solution ends up being cheaper.

Platforms supported
“Outlook supports fewer platforms as opposed to the Lotus Notes, which support the i5 and Z operating systems, Linux (both Intel and system Z) and windows 2003. While Outlook only supports 64 bits for Windows, Lotus Notes offers more than the basics of sending and receiving mails.

There is too much to be noted when the subject of comparison between the Lotus Pro and Outlook is brought into subject.
Outlook offers user friendly interface unique to users’ needs and thus makes it easy to manage and operate. The same cannot be said for the Lotus Notes that has a cumbersome interface with difficult to operate menus rendering it difficult to work with.
Lotus Notes, however, can be relied on when security matters a lot. You can be able to code your emails to restrict accessibility unlike in Outlook that does not allow for mail encryption. Outlook has a spam filter that covers up for its security by helping you keep away spam emails from your inbox.

According to the latest poll results conducted in early 2013, slow internet was rated the third most annoying thing and when using Lotus Notes you have to develop a habit of patience since sometimes you will be subjected to slow system connection unlike the Outlook, which is said to be reliable in terms of speed.

For any changes to be made or any form of modifications to the Lotus Notes email account, technical support is required, but that should not give reason for any worry since reliable technical support is being offered.

Lotus Notes has to be backed continually for better processing. This is undesirable when technological advancement is put into picture. One needs a server that can process data without any limitations or worry of breakages and that is exactly what Outlook is all about, thus making it more desirable as compared to Lotus Notes.”

OK, this is going to take a while….

I see this the other way around. Not every IT department is Microsoft based and IBM understood that where Microsoft does not. They don’t like Linux and frankly they have a weird relationship with Windows Server as well. Funny how a large enterprises based software company makes an OS like Windows and expects anyone to think that GUI overhead is acceptable. Anyway

Exchange can run on:

  • Windows Server

Domino can run on:

  • Windows Server
  • Linux Server
  • AiX Server
  • i5/OS (IBM i or AS/400) Server
  • Sun Solaris UNIX

So at the end of the day for an enterprise data center you are going to have someone there that runs one of those OSes and can help get you up and running. Best part is you don’t have to pick one. You can have Domino run on any of them and have a big mixed environment. Want to run mail on i5/OS and your applications on a Linux server then sure. Not issues. Domino was built to provide the same application/ mail services no matter the OS.

As for the client Lotus Notes will run on Windows, Mac, and Linux with no issues all while Microsoft did it to you again and only supports Windows and then as an after thought they made an Outlook client for Mac. Good but the Mac users will tell you they still hate that client. The Lotus Notes client works the same on each of the OS platforms.

“Outlook is hosted by the Microsoft while Lotus Notes is hosted by Lotus domino
Information is being stored as PST for Outlook and for Lotus Notes as NSF
It is more expensive to have and maintain Lotus Notes as compared to Outlook
Lotus Notes supports more platforms as opposed to Outlook, which offers the basic email
The biggest number of the population has a positive opinion toward Outlook than Lotus Notes”

The summary should say buy Microsoft products, I have not idea what IBM is offering…..

David Vasta’s Summary

I have worked on both. I have seen both. I know what they both do and what they both don’t do and it’s not as easy an answer as get this one and not that one.

Right now in 2015 Microsoft is floundering in it’s offering while buying other companies to fill in the gaps they can’t provide. IBM is suffering from poor marketing and lack of focus on a product set that had the potential to be one of the best collaboration platforms around. Both companies have missed way too many marks over the last 10 years.

IBM is now focused on the social aspect of collaboration. How to they offer a company an tool that works like mail and acts like Facebook, while Microsoft is busy selling Office365 and acquiring companies like Skype to do instant messaging and meetings. IBMs cloud offering and social media platforms are super and have tons to offer while Office365 is nice as well. Most companies looking for an email solution are not looking to host things internally anymore. The new catch phrase it THE CLOUD.

So what do you do? You didn’t read this entire thing to get here with no where to go. If you just want mail and are a Microsoft based IT shop and only need mail, calendar and tasks…then call Microsoft. If you don’t center around Microsoft and have other OSes you run like Linux, Unix or i5/OS and have more needs for applications and instant messaging then maybe IBM is your place to start. If you are looking to host it all off site and not have those issues….call Google and use GMAIL. They have one of the best offerings and it’s not that expensive.