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The latest version and upcoming developments

Last updated: 8 Nov 2003 by

As of October 15, 2003, customers can find information on the lifecycle of IBM Software products, including Lotus software products, on the IBM Software Support Lifecycle Web site at the following address:

No stand-alone versions of Approach are supported currently. But these three SmartSuite versions are supported. Their policy is to "Provide support for all products for a minimum of three years, beginning at the date the product is available for purchase (general availability date)".

Not listed there yet is the 2003 new SmartSuite version 9.8.1 which is available only through the IBM Passport Advantage program. Released in October 2003, it will be supported for a minimum of 3 years through October 2006.

For "fix list" and support information about the last versions of Approach for Windows and OS/2 check the product information at IBM's Approach support website:

Beta versions of versions underdevelopment are no longer available for SmartSuite. Lotus stopped doing beta tests with the 97 version.

After an outbreak of insecurity on the list back in 2002 about whether IBM was going to keep supporting and developing Approach, Sue Sloan wrote:

Lotus/IBM is committed to the SmartSuite and Approach and they provide full support for it -- the same as any other IBM product. They have tech support staff and a full development team for Approach. I expect to see the 9.8 release this Fall and further updates about every 12-14 months.

I have mentioned many times before on the various Approach forums that IBM/Lotus makes a lot of money from the SmartSuite product, but they do not sell it 'retail'. 99% of their customers are larger companies that buy many licenses when they decide on a 'suite', so it is sold thru the IBM sales force directly, and very successfully. At one time recently, Lotus mentioned in a speech that there are 20 million licenses for the SS out there!

Finally, IBM and Lotus are not at all likely to kill the SmartSuite and buy 300,000 copies of MS Office or StarOfice for their own employees to use. As long as there is a need for the types of programs in SS within IBM, there will be an SS product. It may not get enhancements that we all want, like a run-time version of Approach, but it will be enhanced and supported.

As of the Fall of 2003, Lotus management has reconfirmed their committment to the SmartSuite to Sue Sloan. Noting that their focus is not on adding new features but rather on product stability and compatibility with new versions of Windows and various updated file formats.

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