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SOFTWARE FOR THE '90s
We admit it. Rather than rely on purportedly "objective" criteria to pick the key new software of the year, LOTUS took a subjective approach. Sales receipts may seem a rational way to measure importance, but marketing campaigns can initially turn a turkey into a swan. Press clippings are another indicator, but the proper perspective may fall victim to deadlines and the bandwagon effect. We chose a less quantitative but more meaningful criterion to measure the software of 1990: impact.
What is impact? We define it as the significance of a product beyond its immediate appeal, sales records, or performance. It's the influence a product has on the way we work. That influence may be seen in changes made to other products, as developers react to a program's effect. Most important, perhaps, impact is the way a product can change our expectations about the ability of software to improve our situation.
We coupled our own reflections with those of leading software analysts and users to compile LOTUS Top Ten Best New Programs of 1990. Each of these products was released in 1990, but all are products for the nineties.
For impact, nothing can touch Microsoft's thiir edition of Windows. This version of Microsoft's graphical environment for DOS finally delivered on its premises and breathed new life into an operating system on which tens of millions of users still depend. More than 25,000 copies per month flew out of computer stores during the summer, according to retail store surveys by Audits and Surveys. The spark from Windowns 3.0 lit a fire under developers, who are creating a rapidly broadening spectrum of Windows applications. In fact, any of a half dozen or so Windows applications, including Microsoft's Project for Windows and Micrografx's Charisma, might easily have made the list simply because they so fully and functionally exploit the graphical environment.
Consense about the impact of the other products on our list is hard to reach, partly because half of them had just shipped or were about to ship as we went to press. The lack of consensus is also due to the fact that some of these programs are ahead of their time. Lotus Notes, for example, leads the groupware charge, but it may be years before many companies have the network infrastructure to take advantage of it. The same is true of Microsoft's SQL Server for database access and AT&T's Rhapsody for network information management. But that trio of products makes it clear that 1990 will be remembered as much for linking as for windowing.
Windows 3.0 …