Open-Xchange Launches OX Spreadsheet for Cloud Users

The browser-based spreadsheet is the latest addition to the Open-Xchange OX App Suite, which already includes the OX Text word processing app. A presentation app, OX Presentation, is scheduled to debut in the first quarter of 2015.

Open-Xchange, which has been slowly adding capabilities to its cloud-based OX App Suite since 2013, has just added the OX Spreadsheet to the mix, giving users the ability to create spreadsheets that work with files from Microsoft Office and other office suites.

The new OX Spreadsheet will let users edit and share spreadsheets wherever they are, using an HTML5 Web browser on any device, according to the company. OX Spreadsheet is compatible with Microsoft Office and OpenOffice and has a familiar appearance for users who are using similar office suites. Open-Xchange says that OX Spreadsheet is "the first browser-based spreadsheet app that can read and write native spreadsheet files without losing the original file format or detail."

The app also uses predefined cell styles for faster and more accurate layouts and enables real-time collaboration for multiple users on the same file with exclusive editing rights, according to the company.

OX Spreadsheet, released April 1 by Open-Xchange, is part of the company's OX App Suite, which is available by subscription from Open-Xchange partners that provide enhanced paid email hosting services, such as Namecheap, 1&1, Surftown, EuroDNS and others. Subscribers can choose to include the entire OX App Suite in their services, or can buy access to each component individually, according to Open-Xchange. The OX Text word processing application was released in 2013, and an OX Presentation app is slated to be available in the first quarter of 2015.

The OX applications allow users to edit their documents in a Web browser, without having to download or install any software to their machines. Initially, the OX Spreadsheet service supports XLSX files, but support for ODS files will arrive in the service's first update in a few months, according to Open-Xchange.

Once the OX Presentation app is added in 2015, which will allow users to edit PPTX presentations in a browser, then users will have the three most common office applications at their disposal without having to install them on their machines, Rafael Laguna, CEO of Open-Xchange, told eWEEK. "Then you have a suite in terms of functionality that is comparable to the most popular office suites, like Microsoft Office," he said.

The OX App Suite, which was unveiled in November 2012 by Open-Xchange, is 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.

The previously released OX Text app 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.

The gradual rollout of the OX App Suite components is being done because "the knowledge to build office productivity software is not ubiquitous, unfortunately," according to Laguna. "You always want it done earlier. Ask Microsoft how dearly they wanted their Microsoft Office for the iPad done. It took them three years. It will have taken us three years, too."

At the same time, it takes the company's partners, including email hosting companies, telcos, systems integrators and others, some time to integrate the latest Open-Xchange apps and platform so they can be offered to end users who might still be hosted on the older Open-Xchange Server 6 platform, said Laguna.