Open-Xchange Expanding Into Office Productivity Apps for Users

First to appear is a document-editing product, with spreadsheets and presentation applications to come, all offering support for Microsoft document formats.

Open-Xchange is again expanding its longstanding mail server product with more features, this time adding capabilities for users to create and edit documents without having to leave the company's recently released and Web-based App Suite.

The new document-creation and -editing features are part of Open-Xchange's new OX Text offering, which will be available starting April 8 as part of its OX App Suite, according to a March 20 announcement by the company.

OX Text is the first part of the company's upcoming cloud-based office productivity suite, called OX Documents, which will get creation and editing capabilities for spreadsheets and presentations later in 2013, according to the company.

The idea, Open-Xchange CEO Rafael Laguna told eWEEK, is to include office productivity applications as part of the App Suite "to address the needs of companies that need office capabilities" while serving a broader part of its customer base.

The additions to App Suite have been in the works for about a year, Laguna said. "I have always wondered how we could get into the office suite business, which would be perfect fit for Open-Xchange."

To do that, the company in March 2012 hired 11 people who had worked with the original open-source Star Office suite, which eventually became OpenOffice, according to Laguna. The OX Text editing piece was built from scratch by people who built OpenOffice. The team is now up to 15 members.

OX Text allows direct editing capabilities for Microsoft Word .docx files and OpenOffice or LibreOffice .odt files, which means they can easily be transferred and worked on by many users, he said. "People can integrate this into the stuff they already have so you can make your cloud collaboration applications so much more useful."

Open-Xchange offers its App Suite and other products to about 80 Internet service providers, telecom and mobile carriers, hosting companies, cloud providers and other partners, who then offer them to their end users.

The new OX Text and future OX Documents capabilities will be available to the partners that want to add such capabilities to their applications and services.

OX Documents will also be available for use separately from the OX App Suite, which was unveiled last November by Open-Xchange as a central portal where users can work with everything—from their corporate email to their Facebook feeds, Gmail accounts, photos, videos, other social media feeds and much more. End users are able to view their content using a Web browser on any device, including tablets, laptops, smartphones and desktop computers.

OX Text will be released under GNU General Public License 2 and Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License, as well as under a commercial license that offers support based subscriptions to partner companies.

The cloud-based OX App Suite was created so that end users could have a place to bring all their documents, email and other content together in one place. The App Suite replaces Open-Xchange's previous mail server version, Open-Xchange Server 6 (OX6), which debuted in 2006.

End users can preview their files before opening them and can open documents in a wide range of file formats, which makes it very flexible, said Laguna.