Lotus Development announced the launch of InterCommunity in Europe – the company's new online community interface – yesterday.

The software is geared to Web hosting companies, or service providers, who can use it to set up password-protected communities.

Lotus began shipping the product to intermediaries in May, but yesterday's announcement marked its availability to the end user. British Telecommunications, France Telecom, Interliant, a Web hosting company, and IBM Global Services group are the first companies to offer the product.

The software allows online community managers to configure profiles for individuals in their community, giving those users access to information based on their profile. For example, while a building is being designed and constructed, everyone involved in the project, such as contractors or architects, can access information specific to their pre-configured profile on a password-protected site.

This also marks the first time that Lotus has launched a product in Europe before the US, according to Mike Zisman, Lotus' executive vice president for strategy. "Europe is our strongest market today," he said at a Lotus press conference held yesterday.

InterCommunity also includes a calendar, and can be configured to incorporate pop-up windows with links to bookmarks and services targeted to specific users.

Pricing for InterCommunity is determined by the Web hosting company.