HyperOffice up against Google Apps, Zoho with updated suite

The AJAX-powered overhaul was two years in the making

Google Apps, Zoho and other online collaboration players got a fresh dose of competition Tuesday, as HyperOffice announced that a major overhaul of its online collaboration suite is now in private beta.

HyperOffice bundles calendaring, e-mail, document and project management, forums, portals and other features.

The company's target market is new entrepreneurs who need a software suite quickly, as well as small and midsized companies that want to expand without adding hardware and on-premises software.

But the updated application faces stiff competition from the likes of Google Apps Premier Edition, IBM LotusLive and Zoho. HyperOffice is hoping to win its share of business through incentives like free support and training. Subscription pricing is roughly US$7 per user per month.

The beta comes following two years of research and development, according to HyperOffice, which has a long history in the online collaboration space.

It was first formed in the late 1990s under the name WebOS, with a focus on personal information management, and relaunched about six years ago as HyperOffice, shifting strategies to groupware, said Shahab Kaviani, vice president of sales and marketing.

Meanwhile, the new version of HyperOffice has a more flexible and polished interface, but will still look familiar to seasoned users, the company said. The software also has a new Java-based back-end that replaces one built with ColdFusion.

HyperOffice purposely took plenty of time to build the update, in order to incorporate feedback from users and tighten integrations between the suite's components, Kaviani said.

Most data migration chores, such as moving over e-mail messages, can be done with self-service tools, according to Kaviani.

The new version is currently available in English only, with further localization work expected in the second quarter of 2010, he said.

HyperOffice is still a small business compared to vendors like Google, but should see some fringe benefits, he said.

"We don't have the funding to create the awareness Google can. [But] we're happy to see Google being successful. What we're doing is latching onto that. ... It's such a huge market that just getting a percentage of people who prefer us because of our interface will make us a success."

The company is hoping to complete the beta by early February.

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