Step Aside MS Office; Shakti Can Save Millions

by Hinesh Jethwani    Feb 18, 2004

Crumbling under Microsoft’s taxing prices, Punjab National Bank has decided to switch 10,000 desktops to a more feasible alternative, and the most likely winner is a product called ’Shakti’, from a little known company founded by IIT grads, called Chennai Kavigal.

Speaking to CXOtoday, K.S. Bajwa, deputy general manager- IT, Punjab National Bank, said, “Due to the steep pricing of Microsoft Office, we are in the process of evaluating feasible alternatives for approximately 10,000 desktops spread over our 4,000 branch network. Sun’s Star Office would save us around 60%, whereas Kavigal’s Shakti would provide a cost saving of an incredible 80% in terms of budget costs.’

So how much can an enterprise with 10,000 desktops save in switching from MS Office to Shakti?

Vinod Reddy, CEO, Chennai Kavigal, answered, “Our general pricing policy is to be one-tenth of MS Office. MS Office at 10,000 licenses is not likely to cost less than Rs 10000 per license, which pegs the grand total to Rs 10 crore for the English version, and perhaps Rs 5 crore for the Hindi only (no English menus) Standard (fewer applications) version.”

“Shakti can be given to such large customers for much less than Rs 1 crore,” Reddy added.

According to Bajwa, a confirmed decision regarding the switch is likely to be taken within the next 15 days, and Shakti remains the most popular choice.

Reddy explained, “Shakti is a legal, low cost alternative to MS Office. Enterprises can save millions, and have the security of owning licensed software to avoid piracy. Shakti has the added advantage of being bi-lingual, a feature which is available today only in MS Office, as Star Office has not been released in Hindi yet.”

To allow inter-operability between systems, documents created in Shakti can be opened by users of MS Office, Star Office, etc., and vice versa.

Shakti features seven applications, which include a Wordprocessor, Spreadsheet, Email client, Database, HTML editor, a Paint Program and a Web browser. The user interface and input mechanism are bi-lingual, i.e. it supports English and any one Indian language in all the applications. Currently Shakti is available in Hindi-English and Tamil-English combinations. The company is planning to release the product in other languages soon.

Recently, Kavigal has also added a presentation application to the package, which the company claims ’can effectively replace Microsoft’s Powerpoint’.

Bajwa added, “After thoroughly examining the features of Shakti, we found some deficiencies in the product as far as our applications are concerned. We have communicated the same to Chennai Kavigal, and their team is currently in the process of incorporating our feedback into the package.”

Punjab National Bank’s decision to dump MS Office, follows UIIC’s deal with Sun Microsystems for 10,000 licenses of StarOffice7 in early February. (Read the complete story on CXOtoday)

Microsoft’s dominating presence in the desktop application market seems to be fast fading, as most CTO’s are already window-shopping for Office alternatives. The demand has created a significant opening for low cost solution providers like Kavigal, who are all set to give Microsoft a run for its money.