EIOffice Challenges Microsoft Office

Little-known Chinese software maker Evermore Software plans to challenge Microsoft's Office dominance with the February release of its Evermore Integrated Office 2004.

The company plans to launch the product at the Demo conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, next month. Evermore is the first Chinese software company to participate in Demo, an annual showcase of tech innovation organized by IDG Executive Forums. (IDG is the parent company of both IDG Executive Forums and PC World).

Product Specs, Plans

Evermore Integrated Office (EIOffice) combines the components of traditional productivity suites into one application. Users launch EIOffice--not a word processor, then a spreadsheet application, then a presentation tool.

Documents are stored in a single file format, and the application, written in Java, runs on any operating systems that supports Java, including Windows and Linux, according to Evermore.

Evermore representatives first demonstrated an English-language version of EIOffice in 2002 at the Cebit trade show in Hanover, Germany. The company has been selling a version online at a subscription price of $99 yearly. Now it plans to increase its sales efforts through marketing and distribution agreements, an Evermore spokesperson says. By participating in Demo, Evermore hopes to get exposure in the U.S.

Tough Market

Although the product is attractive, it is too pricey, and Evermore lacks the marketing muscle to make it stand out in the crowd of Office rivals, including Sun Microsystems' StarOffice, Corel's WordPerfect Office, and the free, open-source OpenOffice.org, says Amy Wohl, president of analyst firm Wohl Associates in Narberth, Pennsylvania.

"The familiarity of the EIOffice interface is amazing. Your first impression is that you're looking at a copy of Microsoft Word, but when you look closely, you will also see functionality for Excel and PowerPoint," Wohl says.

That is better than StarOffice and OpenOffice, which don't look as much like Microsoft's products, according to Wohl. EIOffice does offer interoperability with Microsoft Office by supporting the document formats, though like StarOffice and OpenOffice, it does not support macros or other programs written for the Microsoft suite, she adds.

Still, for EIOffice to have a chance of success, Evermore needs to partner--and drop its price, Wohl says.

"Just putting the product on the Web isn't a good way to get marketing done. They will need to find some partners. If they actually want to sell it to end users or companies, they will have to figure out a new price for it," says Wohl.

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