A Chinese company that offers an alternative to Microsoft Office is riding the wave by presenting a web version of its office suite.

Evermore Software , based in Wuxi, a city in eastern China, has been offering software comparable to Microsoft Office but less expensive for several years now. Now that the company sees its rival move online, it is working on a web-based version of its own software in response to upcoming web-based office suites from Microsoft Office and Google.

“Everyone is looking for the most Internet-friendly office suite, even Microsoft,” said Evermore Vice President Wang Yuanbing.

Evermore has long featured a classic version of its software dubbed Evermore Integrated Office. The icons and functions resemble those of Microsoft Office, but the program has its own versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint in one window, instead of multiple applications. Users can separate the different sections, link all or part of the contents together and finally save the documents in each of the applications as a single file.

The firm recently added a Chinese-English web dictionary as a toolbar on its software according to Rong Mingjun, Evermore’s spokesperson. Other web applications will enrich the program a little later.

Evermore is not well known outside of China. But more than 20 million people have already downloaded the home version of Evermore Integrated Office, and state-owned enterprises and the Chinese administration are using the professional version, according to Rong. This software usable under Windows and Linux has some users in the United States and in other countries but China remains the priority so far.

WebOffice, the web version of Evermore’s software, will keep the Microsoft Office style and will be compatible with Internet Explorer or Firefox. Just like Google Docs, this software saves the user’s work on a remote server and is accessible with a password from any computer.

WebOffice is almost complete. This web office suite, currently in the testing phase, has already been the subject of a launch announcement.

Evermore will also offer an Intranet version of WebOffice which will use the user company’s own servers and which can be linked to other software such as Lotus Notes. A first version could be launched this month, according to Rong.

Evermore has yet to announce pricing for WebOffice, however the classic version of its office suite retails for $176. The basic family version of the software is free. By comparison, the standard version of Microsoft Office 2007 retails for around $400.

Evermore’s consolidation of applications under a single window should create strong demand, but the firm should pursue a more aggressive marketing policy to attract more users, according to Emily Bian, an analyst at IDC China.

“Their product is particularly interesting,” she says. “All they have to do is get their brand known.”

Evermore, Microsoft and others would benefit from launching their web software for free in China, she adds. Growing piracy in Chinese homes and businesses is creating a real revenue shortfallfor software makers in that country.

Rather than charge user licenses for their software, manufacturers should make them free and derive revenue from advertising or paid services for users, again according to Emily Bian.

Evermore admits to facing rather stiff competition from Microsoft which reigns supreme in the global market.

“I believe we remain competitive against Microsoft Office,” says Rong Mingjun. “Of course a technological lead is not comparable to a lead in the market”

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