Warning – this blog post contains details about a yet-to-be-released product version. There is a remote possibility that some features may not make the shipping version, blah blah, etc.

IBM Lotus Notes 8.5.2 (to keep the brand police happy) is scheduled for release in Q3 of 2010. Those of you working to the Gregorian calendar may say “hey, it’s Q3 now” – indeed it is, so expect it soon. ‘Soon’ is of course a vague adverb – in the grand scale of the history of our planet the 2014 World Cup is happening soon. England will soon get another chance to lift the elusive trophy. Anyway, I digress. So what’s in this forthcoming version? Loads of stuff, but I’ve picked out a few highlights.

Multi-threaded replication – we have some whopping big Notes applications containing thousands of documents… sales opportunity tracking, customer contact, and the IBM directory catalog which allows me address any one of the 350,000-ish people in IBM even when disconnected (actually at only 80 mb it’s not really that big). Sometimes there’s a lot of updates in these applications, and the last thing you want to happen is that all-important e-mail getting stuck behind a behemoth replication operation. Never fear – now you can replicate multiple applications (and e-mail) at the same time, and chances are your e-mail will finish first while the big fella keeps going.

21st century application icons – when I started at Lotus in 1991 (straight from school, obviously) and used Notes version 2.0a, Notes application icons could only have sixteen colours. When I woke up this morning, that was also true of the current version (8.5.1). But that’s set to change with 8.5.2 – you can now load a full colour 32 x 32 image into your application to use as the icon. The old-style icon will remain stored in the application and will be used with older versions or if that full colour icon hasn’t been set. A feature that has zero productivity value yet will please millions (me included).

New mail preferences – quite a few here, including the format of displayed names (e.g. last name followed by first name, rather than first then last) and ‘automatically close original e-mail when replying / forwarding’.

Forward an e-mail from the Trash folder – I hate having a scroll-bar in my inbox, so I’m often quick to delete e-mails. Later, I’ll need to forward that e-mail to someone else, which means restoring it first. 8.5.2 allows me to forward directly from the Trash folder. I’m already using that one a lot.

Send someone a personal group – a great new feature in the personal address book, you can click the Send option and a special e-mail type will send the group contents. The recipient will then see an option to import the group straight into their own personal address book. You can also do this for location profiles.

There’s loads of other features, these are just a few that I’ve picked out. Notes / Domino 8.5.2 will be coming ‘soon’.