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Oracle rolls out new groupware

Oracle inaugurated its new groupware package.

Oracle, backed by an impressive list of partners, today rolled out its InterOffice server applications package, a product that it is clearly hoping will leap to the front of the Web groupware pack.

InterOffice was originally intended to compete against groupware market leader Lotus Development's Notes. But in the six months since the announcement of the product, Notes has come under serious attack from Web-based groupware products and several manufacturers have announced plans to ship their versions of the Network Computer, an Oracle-sponsored Internet box designed primarily for Net usage. Netscape Communications is also making a bid for Web groupware control by adding technology acquired from groupware maker Collabra Software into both its Web browser and servers.

Now Oracle wants InterOffice to take on all these competitors at one time.

InterOffice combines messaging, document management, email, calendaring, directory services, and Web publishing with the company's database server software.

The strength of InterOffice versus its competitors is the flexibility of its underlying relational database and Web publishing tools, which allow all data to be published to the Web in HTML format, said CEO Larry Ellison at an event today in San Francisco. Also, users' current applications, built atop the Oracle database, can be made Web-ready through InterOffice. Users can develop applications that work with InterOffice using almost any popular development tool, said Steve d'Alencon, senior director of product management at Oracle.

InterOffice client software runs on nearly every conceivable platform, from Windows 95 to videophones. But Oracle is clearly trying to position InterOffice as the perfect complement to forthcoming Network Computer systems from more than 15 manufacturers.

"InterOffice is the primary user interface for the NC," said Ellison. All InterOffice applications will be accessible via the NC's Web browser, he said.

Partners already signed up to back InterOffice include:
--Philips, which announced that it has already launched a pilot program in Garden City, New York, using Philips screen phones to access InterOffice email.
--Compuserve's Network Services Division announced that it will offer InterOffice application hosting through its data centers, beginning in the third quarter.
--R.R. Donnelly's Coris division announced that it developing a printing and publishing system, called PowerBase, based on InterOffice.
--Puma Technology signed a deal with Oracle to link its IntelliSync data communications software to InterOffice.
--Adobe is integrating its Acrobat 3.0 document viewing software into InterOffice.

Oracle will sell two versions of InterOffice, both available in July. The InterOffice messaging server, which includes all messaging and email functions, is priced at $95 per user mailbox. InterOffice document management server, which adds document management and automated text summary functions, costs $395 per concurrent user.

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