Microsoft Bolsters Exchange Team With Collaboration Experts

Julio Estrada, a former star at Lotus Development who went on to launch Kubi Software, has joined the Exchange Server team.

Also joining Microsoft is Bob Congdon, a longtime IBM Lotus veteran who most recently worked on WorkPlace Designer. He previously played a role in Lotus Domino Web Server.

Sources said Congdon and Estrada qualify as “star developers” and are major pickups for Microsoft.

Estrada was lead developer on Domino Web Server and did important work on QuickPlace, a workgroup product. Kubi Software, Lincoln, Mass., also specializes in collaboration software. CRN reported the news first last week.

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A Microsoft spokeswoman later confirmed that Estrada and Congdon have joined the Exchange Server team, Estrada as a software architect and Congdon as design engineer.

Earlier this year, Microsoft bought Groove Networks and brought its founder, Lotus Notes pioneer Ray Ozzie, aboard as a CTO.

Microsoft Exchange Server has changed drastically since its inception. It initially was pitched not only for e-mail but also as a platform for collaborative applications to take on Lotus Notes. It then morphed into e-mail exclusively, with the collaboration perks moving into SharePoint.

The addition of these technologists could signal a shift back to Exchange&'s collaboration roots, some said.

“This can only mean that Microsoft intends to add collaboration features and related development tools to Exchange,” said Ron Herardian, CEO of Global System Services, a Mountain View, Calif., system architect.

But an Exchange partner waved off that suggestion. “Exchange can&'t go back to collaboration. Microsoft can&'t be that stupid,” he said, citing the uproar the last strategy shift caused.

One IBM executive bristled at the notion that IBMers are fleeing to Microsoft. Many of the hires with Lotus backgrounds were at other companies when Microsoft came calling, wrote Ed Brill, business unit executive for IBM&'s Lotus Software group, in his Web log.