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Sapila targets \'pirates\' with OfficeWare

By   |  August 4, 2003

SA-based Sapila has released the first version of its OfficeWare suite, a re-working of the StarOffice suite, which the company hopes will be snapped up by cash-strapped businesses. Sapila MD Mike Mackay, says the company will charge R650 for the OfficeWare suite with reduced charges for bulk licenses.

Although not developed locally, the OfficeWare suite has had a number of changes made to it by local developers, says Mackay. \”For a start we have tidied up the code. We also chose to use the StarOffice suite as a base because the code is generally much cleaner. The OpenOffice version sometimes has excellent coding but often there is also some very bad coding. So we have improved the quality of the product.

\”We have also focused on reducing the footprint of the suite,\” says Mackay. He says that in his experience the majority of users only use a fraction of the functionality in a suite such as StarOffice. \”We have been very strict on what is allowed into the final version and developers have to justify the inclusion of all features.\”

In streamlining the product Sapila has reduced the suite to just three elements: A word processor(now called Verbate), a spreadsheet(Summate), and a presentation tool(Project). For this the company will charge R650 per user at standard retail rates and it will include six months free support.

Initial trial versions of OfficeWare are now available from the web site. The trial version is time-limited to 30 days, says Mackay after which users will have to purchase the product.

The downloads available are currently only for Windows although Mackay says they do have a Linux version available. \”My feeling is that it is still a little too early for the Linux version. Most users, probably around 90% of them, are using Windows at the moment and it is very difficult to tell a potential client that they should not only throw out their current office suite but also throw out their operating system.\”

Mackay says the company will be targeting the \”pirate\” market particularly where users are looking for an affordable way to legalise their business operations. But, says Mackay, OfficeWare is not only limited to small businesses and is equally at home in larger enterprise and educational organisations. A natural target market for the product, says Mackay, will be the Government sector which is strongly in favour of open source software and the universities which have a history of open source use. Mackay says the company has already had a lot of interest from universities in particular.


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