China To Kung Fu Microsoft's Office Monopoly

by Hinesh Jethwani    May 20, 2004

Ever heard of China-based Wuxi Evermore Software Inc.? Well Microsoft certainly has. With the company’s innovative MS Office alternative - Evermore Integrated Office (EIOffice) 2004 - hitting market shelves in the United States and China on Monday, the Office Productivity Suite market has one more face to reckon with.

Evermore has also struck a deal to jointly develop a Japanese-language edition of EIOffice with Japan’s Internet Telephone Co. Ltd. The company will also be responsible for selling the software in the Japanese market.

EIOffice is being touted as the “First real Office, designed and priced to liberate enterprises, small businesses and individual users from the MS Office monoculture,” according to the company.

The Office Productivity Suite market has seen a flurry of activity recently, with many MS Office alternatives trying to capitalize on the growing frustration of customers against Microsoft’s pressurizing price slabs. However, the Redmond giant clearly remains the numero uno, refusing to budge from its hype-propelled berth. Even local innovators have failed to bag significant deals, despite the Â’home ground factor’ of regional language support. India’s very own innovative answer to MS Office, Shakti , failed to bag a 10,000-seat mega deal with PNB Bank . StarOffice is the only MS Office alternative making a significant impact in the enterprise space, thanks to its ingenious plan of releasing an Open Source freeware version called OpenOffice first. The method has had a remarkable impact on the common users mindset, as OpenOffice.org witnessed 720,000 downloads for OpenOffice within just a year of its release, a number that has now climbed to millions. The freeware concept has definitely surpassed Sun’s expectations, and the company is now reaping the harvest with the sales of its licensed suite - StarOffice, positioned clearly as an MS Office alternative, with a very competitive price line

EIOffice 2004 is written in Java and runs on Windows and Linux, making it ideal for users moving back and forth between open-source and proprietary operating systems. Another highlight is the fact that it integrates spreadsheet, word processor and business graphics functions into one interface.

This approach to integration replaces multiple file formats with one file format — .eio Â- thatstores all text, worksheets, graphics, audio, video and slides Â- and one “EIOffice binder” that stores up to 255 related spreadsheets, 64 text documents and 64 presentations.

Shigemasa Shigaki, president of Internet Telephone (which markets hardware, software and VOIP services in Japan), overzealously commented, “EIOffice delivers the power of a conventional Office suite, plus new capabilities, such as Paste Link. When people get accustomed to using EIOffice data integration - which makes correct links between text documents, spreadsheets and presentations - Microsoft will be imitating EIOffice.”

To organize all related data, EIOffice 2004 uses the Data Object Oriented Repository System (DOORS). This patent-pending technology developed by Evermore also powers the new “Paste Link” command, which is similar to the legendary Â’cut and paste’ technology used in MS Office.

For example, as a user changes quarterly financial results in a spreadsheet, the Paste Link command automatically applies that update to all other memos, reports, presentations, worksheets, text and graphics with the same source data.

The company claims that no extra training is needed when users make the switch to EIOffice 2004. The software imports and exports Microsoft Office xls, doc and ppt files, including graphics, slides, charts and tables. Users may even insert Word documents directly into active EIOffice text documents Â- and copy, rename and delete paragraph and document styles from and to Word’s “Normal” template. In addition, users may save EIOffice 2004 documents in pdf, rtf and txt formats Â- and automatically compress files. Floating-point, font-resolution, text-wrapping, layout and other technologies ensure that converted documents resemble the original as closely as possible.

The English and Chinese editions of EIOffice 2004 are available immediately. In the United States, EIOffice is priced at $398 with five years of free upgrades and unlimited support. Alternatively, the software is priced at $149 for one year of free upgrades and support Â- and users may extend this shorter license for $99 for each additional year. Corporate, educational, senior citizen, family and other licensing terms are also available. Evermore is also offering special competitive conversion pricing terms.

Tags: China