Open-Xchange is making its commercial features available as a free trial, as part of a drive to get more users onto the open source Microsoft Exchange competitor.
Open-Xchange Server 5, released last year, is licensed under the GNU General Public License, and a free version is available for download. But many of the server's advanced functions come from proprietary extensions, called OXtenders, which must still be purchased, the company says. OXtenders allow the server to interact with Microsoft Outlook, Palm devices and other specialised products.
The company said it is offering a free trial as a result of requests from partners. The server is available in bundles with the two main commercial Linux distributions, Red Hat and Novell's Suse, and is the basis for a collaboration appliance from Collax.
Users can download the server, along with OXtenders for Palm, Outlook and other products, by registering on Open-Xchange's Web site. After 30 days users must remove the software or buy a licence. Prices range from $389 for the small business suite to $1,519 for the Suse bundle.
Open-Xchange offers a version of the server packaged into a virtual machine so users can quickly get to the evaluation stage. Sometime this year the company plans to release the virtual machine-packaged version as production software.
"We send an image that [has] a complete stack of software preinstalled, set up and ready to go," said Dan Kusnetzky, Open-Xchange's executive vice president for marketing and corporate strategy, earlier this year. "We felt it would be an advantage in the competitive marketplace", he said, because without the virtual machine approach "it took a level of expertise to install it".
Last week Open-Xchange said it completed a first round investment with Bay Tech Venture Capital, which it plans to use to expand sales and support capacities as well as accelerate its research and development activities. Bay Tech said it believes open source will capture a large percentage of the collaboration software market.
Collax launched a UK version of its Open-Xchange-based product at the end of August. Collax sells its server as software or as a hardware appliance.
Open-Xchange was originally allied closely with Suse, but Red Hat added Open-Xchange support in July of last year.
Scalix and Zimbra, two open source competitors to Open-Xchange, both released updates to their software last month.