Oracle-Sun Acquisition

Oracle Plans To Take on Microsoft Office

With its acquisition of Sun Microsystems complete, Oracle intends togo after Microsoft's lucrative Office franchise, the company revealedyesterday. While Oracle had been quiet about its intentions forsupporting OpenOffice, the company disclosed plans for a forthcomingupgrade called Oracle Cloud Office during afive-hour briefing at its Redwood Shores, CA headquarters.

Cloud Office will support the Open Document Format (ODF) and willoffer Web-based creation of documents, spreadsheets, and presentationsand will link to the Oracle Collaboration Suite. The company did notsay when it will release Cloud Office.

"We're going to focus on enterprise customers," saidEdward Screven, Oracle's chief corporate architect, speaking atyesterday's briefing. "We're going to build integrations betweenbusiness intelligence and OpenOffice [and] between our contentmanagement solutions."

OpenOffice is Sun's standards-based office productivity suite andwill be managed as an independent business unit, where Oracle willretain Sun's development staff and support teams. "We're going tocontinue to develop promote and support OpenOffice, including theOpenOffice.org community edition, he said.

Cloud Office potentially could represent a formidable challenge toMicrosoft as it gets ready in the next quarter to release Office 2010."A company with Oracle's money and clout behind it will make itinteresting to watch," said Burton Group analyst Gary Creese.

"Though Sun has long supported OpenOffice, it has alwayssomewhat struggled. Oracle has a much larger footprint, if they chooseto they could probably drive a lot more customers to this new offering,but I think the jury is still absolutely out on how all these newcompetitors to Office will fare."

Web-based creation, editing and sharing of files is a key featureMicrosoft is touting for Office 2010. That feature is a centralattraction of Google Apps. IBM's Lotus group last week at Lotuspheresaid its Symphony suite will support Web clients this summer.

Still Creese said many enterprises remain reluctant to move awayfrom Office for two primary reasons: concern about the sharing of fileformats and a richer set of features. Nevertheless, many organizationsthat remain committed to Office aren't ruling out lower costalternatives for users who don't require the high-end features inOffice. "Some organizations are looking at segmenting some userswho could suffice with less expensive alternatives," he said.

One area where Office 2010 will have particular appeal is in shopsthat intend to migrate to SharePoint 2010, Creese added. "Office2010 is very much built as a front-end to SharePoint 2010," hesaid. "For others, the reason for upgrading is lesscompelling." However for those with Office 2003 and are faced withhaving to upgrade, it would make sense to move to Office 2010, headded.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is executive editor, features, for Redmond Developer News. You can contact him at jschwartz@reddevnews.com.

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