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September 27, 2005

Competitors rush to fill Microsoft Office ODF gap

Posted by David Hunter at 12:06 PM ET.

In the wake of Massachusetts’ requirement for OpenDocument Format support and Microsoft’s refusal to provide it, competitors are stepping up.

First out of the gate is Sun, but IBM and Corel are right behind – Sun Launches StarOffice 8:

On Tuesday, Sun will announce the availability of StarOffice 8, the latest version of its desktop productivity suite.

StarOffice 8 is based on OpenOffice.org 2.0, a popular open-source office suite, which is now in pre-release.

It is designed to be very compatible with Microsoft Office (see also this NY Times article) and:

In addition to all this Microsoft Office compatibility, StarOffice 8 is the first commercial office suite to use the OASIS OpenDocument file format.

Sun won’t be the last. IBM is adding it to IBM Workplace and Corel is expected to be incorporating OpenDocument into its WordPerfect Suite in the near future.

The free software OpenOffice.org 2.0, of course, already has it.

The state of Massachusetts has also made OpenDocument, along with Adobe Acrobat PDF, one of its two official office formats.

Other governments, including the European Union, are also considering such moves.

It’s not just governments that may be considering StarOffice.

“Organizations are seeking out ways to both reduce their costs of using information technologies and also make their IT investments provide real, measurable benefits in a very short term,” said Dan Kusnetzky, IDC’s VP of system software research.

StarOffice may well be “good enough” for most users and the price seems right:

StarOffice will be available in seven languages. The suggested list price for the packaged software product will be $99.95, and a download price is $69.95.

For enterprise customers, StarOffice 8 software is priced on a tiered, per-user basis, starting at $35 for new users and $25 for upgrades.

IBM, typically, is offering a dreadnought – IBM’s potential MS-Office killer to roll out by year’s end:

In an telephone interview earlier today, IBM vice president of Workplace, Portal and Collaboration Products Ken Bisconti told me that IBM not only has an ODF-compliant solution in the works, but that it will also be released by the end of the year. That solution is IBM’s Workplace. Built on top of IBM’s Java 2 Enterprise Edition-based Websphere application server stack, Workplace can trace its pedigree to the collaboration technologies found in Lotus Domino/Notes and to Big Blue’s portal technologies, typically based on WebSphere.

Much more by following the link, but the net is that while Workplace isn’t really a server based application, there definitely has to be a whole server infrastructure in the picture:

Another key IBM proposition of Workplace, said Bisconti (using the term “server-managed clients”), is that upgrades to the components can be rolled out salesforce.com-style. In other words, when the components are upgraded, the user simply inherits those upgrades in their personal portal.

But, by the end of the year, when IBM officially makes the solution available to any enterprise (typical cost runs in the six digit category), ODF-support will be baked in. Currently, the Workplace Managed Client (WMC) supports Microsoft’s file formats. What that means, according to Bisconti, is that users who need to convert their Office documents into ODF-compliant ones (the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will soon have this need) will be able to do so by opening them with WMC and then saving them in ODF.

I suppose this may play in big customers, but it’s a commitment to a lot more than a mere Microsoft Office replacement.



Filed under Coopetition, Corel, Governmental Relations, IBM, ODF, Office, Standards, Sun

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One Response to “Competitors rush to fill Microsoft Office ODF gap”

  1. Microsoft News Tracker » Blog Archive » IBM Workplace to support Open Document standard Says:

    [...] This isn’t a surprise although it had been promised before the end of the year. Workplace is rather server-centric so its for larger enterprises, not end users. In particular, IBM seems to be targeting governments in developing nations: At a press conference in Delhi, IBM executives plan to announce on Monday that the company’s Workplace Managed Client will be able to read, write and save documents in the OpenDocument format. … Arthur Fontaine, the marketing manager for Workplace Managed Client, believes IBM’s support for industry standards and the server-centric design of Workplace will appeal to customers in developing countries, particularly governments. [...]

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