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Oracle Cloud Office Takes Aim At Microsoft, Google

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Oracle squarely took aim at rivals Microsoft and Google with its introduction on Wednesday of a cloud-based suite of business applications.

Oracle Cloud Office -- like Google Docs and Microsoft's and Office 365 -- is a Web-based productivity suite, featuring word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, database, and drawing software. The software is based on technology Oracle received as part of its acquisition of Sun in January.

Initially cool to cloud computing, earlier this year Oracle CEO Larry Ellison warmed to the idea. Pundits, however, are unsure whether Oracle's new office suites are meant as an annoyance to longtime rival Microsoft or whether Oracle views them as a viable business. The cloud-based office software market, after all, is expected to reach $17 billion by 2016 -- up dramatically from the $3.3 billion it generated in 2009, according to a July report by WinterGreen Research.

The suite is based on Open Document Format (ODF) and open Web standards, and is compatible with both legacy Microsoft Office documents and Web 2.0 publishing solutions, according to Oracle. The software runs on Windows, Mac, Linux, Web browsers, and smartphones such as the iPhone, the company said. Oracle Cloud Office Web-scale architecture can be used for on-premises, on-demand, or software-as-a-service (SaaS) deployments.

Oracle also took the wraps off OpenOffice 3.3, an open-standard office productivity suite for the enterprise designed to reduce a company's office-productivity licensing costs by up to five times, compared to Microsoft, according to Oracle. The software, which runs natively on Windows, Mac, and Linux, seamlessly integrates with Oracle solutions and is compatible with PDF and Microsoft Office, including the 2010 release of Microsoft's suite, Oracle said.

"Oracle Cloud Office and Oracle Open Office 3.3 deliver complete, open, and cost-effective office productivity suites that are designed and optimized for our customers' needs," said Michael Bemmer, VP of Oracle Office. "Customers now have the flexibility to support users across a wide variety of devices and platforms, whether via desktop, private, or public cloud. With Oracle Office, enterprises can reduce costs while helping to increase productivity and speed innovation."

Earlier this year, however, the open office community was shaken up when 33 members, primarily in Europe, left the Oracle-supported and formed The Document Foundation as an alternate advocacy and development group.

The Cloud Office Professional Edition and OpenOffice Enterprise Edition cost about $90 per user, volume discounts available, with limited support, and Cloud Office Standard Edition and OpenOffice Standard Edition list at $49.95 per user with no support.