The Evermore Integrated Office 2009 is aimed at China's 1.3 billion citizens. The Java-based offering utilizes an XML-based document format called uniform office format, or UOF.
"While Evermore may not cost Microsoft many sales in the West, it could prove to be a formidable opponent in what I expect will soon be the largest market for software in the world -- China," said Andrew Updegrove, a Boston attorney with an expertise in software standards. "The new suite claims to be ahead of Office 2007 in one more specific respect. According to Interfax, EIOffice 2009 is compatible with ODF as well as OOXML files."
Evermore has shown up at various U.S. trade shows over the years with earlier versions of EIOffice, but hasn't mounted a serious marketing campaign outside China.
The Interfax-China news agency said Evermore is selling a high-end professional edition of EIOffice for about $175 to compete with the professional version of Microsoft Office 2007, which is priced around $718.
EIOffice integrates word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation tools in one piece of software, according to Interfax-China; it is said to run on any operating system that supports Java, including Linux and Windows.
Updegrove indicated EIOffice will likely signal the intensification of hot competition with Microsoft, which has been making inroads in China. "China is determined to promote its own software industry," said Updegrove. "How big a threat will EIOffice 2009 be to Office?"
While Updegrove didn't answer the question directly, he pointed to comments by a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, who said China's UOF format will beat OOXML to become a global standard for Chinese language documents, provided the government provides enough support.
Updegrove noted that Microsoft has been working to build its position in China aggressively, for instance, by selling Chinese students copies "of both Windows and the student edition of Office together for the incredibly low price of $3.00."
Interfax noted that Evermore VP Cao Shen called on the Chinese government earlier in the month to make Microsoft the first target of the country's new anti-monopoly laws, which are scheduled to take effect on August 1.