Exchange targeted by open-source group has been launched with plans to create applications that compete with Microsoft Exchange server products.

A new open-source effort dubbed has been launched with the explicit intent to create applications that compete with Microsoft Exchange server products. is a sister project to, a community bent on developing open-source desktop applications that compete with Microsoft's dominant Office applications. The two groups identify themselves as separate but complementary and say they intend to work together to ensure interoperability.

"Just to be perfectly clear, ( is an MS Exchange replacement," Gary Frederick, leader of the Groupware Project, said in a statement. is "important because it's the missing link in the open-source software stack."

In the market for communication server software, or groupware, Microsoft ranks first in number of customers, followed by IBM, Novell, Oracle and a number of smaller companies that are hoping to fill specific niches.

Frederick highlighted the launch as the culmination of a decade-long effort to map all the key infrastructure and standard desktop applications to free software.

Microsoft representatives could not immediately be reached for comment. However, in a recent memo to employees, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer identified open-source software as a significant challenge to the company's products. said it will build server applications running on the open-source Linux operating system and Sun Microsystems' Solaris OS to work with tools and other Linux and Windows groupware. Skyrix Software, a developer of Linux-based groupware, is contributing the source code, based on its Skyrix 4.1 Groupware Server software.

The software aims to provide document sharing functions for documents and allow collaboration among users of applications such as Microsoft Outlook, Ximian Evolution, Mozilla Calendar, Apple Computer's iCal,'s client product known as OOo Glow, and other groupware clients.

"By configuring the server together (after install) with the office suite and other groupware clients, (people) will be able to implement an integrated collaboration environment wholly composed of free software," Skyrix chief executive Jens Enders said in a statement.

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