Oracle, Sun Take Swings at Office 2003

Even before Microsoft chief Bill Gates took the stage to roll out Office System 2003, his competitors were taking shots at the product while promoting their own wares.

NEW YORK—Even before Microsoft Corp. Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates took the stage here to announce the Tuesday morning, his competitors were casting doubt on, and criticizing, the product while promoting the virtues of their own offerings.

Sunir Kapoor, the vice president for Redmond Shores, Calif.-based Oracle Corp.s Collaboration Suite, said desktop productivity tools should not drive a companys enterprise information architecture and collaboration strategy.

Kapoor added that while Microsoft Office System is a collection of products and services that require separate purchases and run on different servers and systems, Oracle Collaboration Suite provides an integrated suite of products that run on a single infrastructure, each with its own data stores and administration tools.

While Microsoft plans to eventually move Exchange to a database-driven architecture, the company is several years behind the Oracle Collaboration Suite and, in the meantime, Exchange customers will continue to invest dollars to adapt to Microsofts ever-changing platform, Kapoor said.

"Microsoft has strong feature and functionality capabilities on the desktop, but an extremely fragmented approach to servers that are needed to support collaboration across the enterprise.

"Consolidation of servers, data and multiple applications improves security, reduces total cost of ownership and increases user productivity. At that end of the day, new features on the desktop will mean nothing if the information is unavailable or at risk," Kapoor said.

Peder Ulander, a director in Sun Microsystems Inc.s desktop solutions group, in Santa Clara, Calif., agreed, saying that "the seemingly constant alert-patch-cleanup cycle that Microsoft Windows and Office customers go through reduces user productivity and increases IT support costs through wasted time. The damage done to information assets further reduces ROI by increasing business risk," he said.

Suns StarOffice desktop productivity suite provides a greater return on investment that does Office 2003, he maintained. Its lower licensing costs "more than pay" for the cost of migration, he said, adding that StarOffice looks and feels a lot like Microsoft Office, with a rich graphical user interface, intuitive menuing structure and integrated applications.


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"For the vast majority of StarOffice users, productivity levels are indistinguishable from Microsoft Office," he said.

StarOffice also includes industry-standard XML support, while Office 2003 has a proprietary XML schema. As such, Sun customer investments in hardware and application software are protected and customers are not locked in to a single vendors ability to execute and reliably innovate, he said.

And, lastly, because StarOffice is priced per employee, customers save the time and expense of software audits to assess IT liability, he said.

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