Open-Xchange's OX Text an in-browser word processing tool running on a laptop

Open-source office suite to rival Google and Microsoft

A software company has launched an open-source, cloud-based office suite to rival Google Docs and Office 365.

Open-Xchange, who describe themselves as “a disruptive open source software company” made up of some of the key members of the original OpenOffice development team, have announced the launch of OX Documents, a cloud-based office productivity suite, featuring OX Text, an in-browser word processing tool.

OX Text will be available in early April released under GNU General Public License 2 and Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License, and it will be joined by Presentation and Spreadsheet to complete the OX Documents Suite later in 2013.

Organisations wanting to use the software for non-commercial reasons, such as charities, can do so free of charge, but the firm will also provide commercial licenses that offer support based subscriptions to telecom and mobile carriers, hosting companies, cloud providers, VAR’s and SI’s to enable their SaaS, Managed Services and mobile App strategies.

OX Text is designed to be a web-based successor to OpenOffice, with members of the original OpenOffice team joining Open-Xchange early in 2012 to engineer a cloud-based office suite from scratch using state-of-the-art HTML5 and Java Script technology.

Speaking at the announcement of OX Documents at World Hosting Days in Rust, Germany, yesterday Rafael Laguna, Open-Xchange CEO said: “A crucial factor in the development of OX Text was not to introduce yet another proprietary file format to further add to the productivity compatibility jungle.

“Existing cloud-based tools insist that you adopt their format before you can begin the edit process that creates ugly conversion artefacts, putting a brake on fast adoption of collaboration in the cloud.

“Perhaps most importantly it always keeps the original document format by not attempting to alter or convert non-compatible native formatting features. This means that when you reopen the document in Word it is formatted as originally intended, without any alterations, thus preventing any format corruption, data loss or errors.”

OX Text offers direct editing capabilities for Microsoft Word .docx files and OpenOffice or LibreOffice .odt files. Multiple users can view and edit the same document in real time by sharing editor’s rights held by a single user at a given time, allowing for structured collaboration. OX Documents also provides viewing support for all major file formats.

A key feature of the program is non-destructive support of Microsoft Office and OpenOffice or LibreOffice file formats, meaning XML-based documents can be seamlessly read, edited and saved back to the original format at a level of quality and fidelity previously unavailable with browser-based text editors.

OX Documents is available separately and as an extension on the functionality of OX App Suite, a web-based personal desktop, providing tools for the management of email, calendar, documents and social network feeds.

Liam Eagle, analyst at 451 Research, said: “Adding office productivity to the email and collaboration capabilities of OX App Suite makes sense for OX App Suite users who often need to create, share and work together beyond email and without the hassle of breaking file formats.

“Addressing the headaches of version control and ‘attachment hell’ is likely to be well received by users, and we expect service providers will value the opportunity to host, deliver and price these productivity tools."

A preview of OX Text is available here.

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