Oracle takes office suite to the cloud

The company has launched a web and mobile accessible version of its office suite that allows the software to be delivered on a SaaS basis, as well as updating its desktop suite to OpenOffice 3.3
Written by Ben Woods, Contributor

Oracle has introduced Cloud Office 1.0, a cloud-based version of its office suite, which is aimed at web and mobile users.

In its announcement on Wednesday, the business software specialist also launched OpenOffice 3.3, the most recent iteration of the desktop office software picked up in its acquisition of Sun. Both releases fall under the umbrella of Oracle Office and are built on the Open Document Format (ODF) open standard.

Cloud Office 1.0 promises to provide the same functionality found in its Oracle OpenOffice to users on the move, allowing on or offline editing of presentations, text documents or spreadsheets via a mobile device or web interface. Like its desktop counterpart, Cloud Office is compatible with Microsoft Office.

"Customers now have the flexibility to support users across a wide variety of devices and platforms, whether via desktop, private or public cloud," said Michael Bemmer, vice president of Oracle Office, in a statement.

The move places the hosted software suite in direct competition with the cloud-based Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365. Microsoft's hosted suite of productivity applications — which combines Office 2010 Pro Plus, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Web Apps and Lync video conferencing — is due to launch next year.

Oracle said that the Cloud Office software can be delivered on an on-premise, on-demand or on a software-as-a-service basis.

Cloud Office will be priced at $40 (£25.60) for the Standard Edition and $90 for the Professional Edition, but will face competition from Google Apps Premier Edition, which includes access to Mail, Docs, Sites, Calendar and IM for just $50 per user, per year. Oracle declined to clarify whether the cost was for a one-off or annual fee or say when the product will be available on general release.

Users wanting to access Cloud Office from a web browser will need to be running Firefox 3.6 or Internet Explorer 8. It will also be supported by the Apple iOS and Google Android mobile platforms for mobile access. 

In comparison, Microsoft Office 365 will carry enterprise pricing options ranging from $2 to $27 per user, per month, while the full hosted suite of Office software will cost around $24 per employee, per month.

Oracle also announced the launch of OpenOffice 3.3 on Wednesday, which brings new integration features for Oracle applications, Oracle Business Intelligence, the Oracle E-Business Suite and Microsoft SharePoint. Oracle also says that overall stability, compatibility and performance have also been improved with the 3.3 release.

An offshoot of OpenOffice — known as LibreOffice — was released by the newly formed Open Document Foundation in September following 10 years of Sun-lead development. The move aims to make the suite more accessible and fully independent for the first time.

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