Microsoft's Office productivity suite is facing increasing competition from folks like StarOffice and it's open source cousin OpenOffice. There have been a few other small startups like SimDesk that have won a few big deals. Now, IBM is ready to jump into the market with a web-based office productivity suite. It includes an email client, a word processor, a spread-sheet and a personal database offering. What's interesting is that they try to go beyond just being Office clones by the combination online/offline system. The software will work offline as a typical client desktop application, but will also synchronize with a server whenever online - so you get automatic backups and access from multiple machines. They're also trying to price it cheaply: $2/user per month - but you also need to buy the server software. It would be smart (and perhaps they, or a partner are doing this) to also offer a hosted version for smaller businesses or individual users, so that they don't have to set up and maintain the server software themselves. This, obviously, fits in with IBM's push to make computing more of a utility offering where IBM just hosts everything and people buy the services and processing power they need.
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