Ulteo's online OpenOffice service will be officially launched to the marketplace to a limited number of subscribers in the first half of 2008, the company's CEO said.
Thierry Koehrlen, CEO of Ulteo, said the company will offer a free version and paid subscription to customers who need premium services. Ulteo, pioneered by Mandriva founder and Ulteo Chair and CTO Gael Duval, has greatly expanded beta testing over the past two weeks.
"Free because we believe that anybody should be able to try the www.OpenOffice.org suite online. And there are also people who cannot afford to pay to use it," Koehrlen wrote in an e-mail to ZDNet. "There will be also a paying premium subcription for those who need a little bit more. And as serial entrepreneurs we know how crucial it is to have a solid business model so we can maintain and improve our service and roll out more of them. The premium will be more than just using OpenOffice.org though. We are still considering pricing but in any case it will be very affordable."
The service allows the open source office suite OpenOffice to be run in Firefox or Internet Explorer on the desktop without installing any software. The online service can also be used with Ulteo's Online Desktop and Server to provide instant collaboration features, including the ability to send and receieve meeting invites and work on share documents.
The Ulteo OpenOffice service follows the launch of Google Apps and Windows Live Services and seems to be attracting a good amount of attention -- if you take the word of the CEO. When the service was first announced Dec. 11 and made available to 15,000 beta testers, the stampede caused a service disruption.
"We are going to open gradually the service to more and more people in Q1 and Q2 until it is finally public. It is hard to give an exact timing because the success of the announcement has been amazing, far more than we anticipated," the CEO said. "Consequently our service has suffered and we apologize to all the people who could not connect properly or slowly. We will try to enroll more beta so please be patient and things should get better."
By Wednesday, registering an account and accessing the Ulteo Online Desktop was no problem.