Evermore enters the local market, promising freedom "forevermore" from "Microsoft shackles" SOUTH AFRICAN businesses and individuals will soon be able to buy a fully-legal office software suite with almost exactly the same look and feel as Office, but at a much cheaper price.

Wuxi Evermore Software, a Sino-American joint venture formed back in 2000, has released a second version of its office suite, called EIOffice 2007 (Evermore Integrated Office 2007), and this one will be distributed on South African shores.

Born out of a desire by the Chinese government to reduce the levels of software piracy, but to not be bound by expensive Microsoft licences, Evermore received $10 million from the Asian country to develop a more cost-effective solution, explains MD of Evermore Software Solutions` local arm, Simon Clegg.

According to the Evermore Web site, the company now employs 400 software engineers worldwide, and Clegg tells iWeek that in China there are about 500 000 users of the EIOffice 2004 version, with another 30 000 from elsewhere in the world.


Written in Java, EIOffice runs on Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. It features word processor, spreadsheet and graphics programs bearing a striking resemblance to the Microsoft alternatives. A PDF writer has also been built in, and a maths and science editor is designed to help student users.

The cheekily named and patented DOORS technology (Data Object Orientated Repository System) allows changes in data created in one application, let`s say the spreadsheet, for instance, to be automatically updated in the other applications, like the word and graphics programs.

At a total cost of R899, which includes 12 months of support and upgrades, EIOffice is a more cost-effective alternative to any of the Microsoft Office suite options. "You can legalise yourself, and get support and upgrades for under R1 000," boasts Clegg.

However, it does not include a mail client - its most obvious drawback when compared to Microsoft. Clegg points to the myriad of high-quality open-source mail clients available as a suitable substitute to Microsoft Outlook.

A senior Microsoft public relations account manager has laughed off the supposed competitor, saying to iWeek: "Really, do you think it`s worth commenting on?"


EI Office 2007 was designed to create documents in EIOffice format, but Clegg notes it "has the ability to save documents in several Microsoft formats, making EIOffice 2007 seamlessly interoperable within the Microsoft Office environment."

It also includes most of the features that high-end users have become accustomed to - he adds - like pivot tables, hyper-linking, mail merge, task panes, autoshapes, text draw, autoformat, auto text and a programming macro.

EIOffice 2007 installs on all Microsoft operating systems such as Windows 98, 2000 and XP, as well as on Linux operating systems like Suse10, Redhat 9, and Impi Linux. The Mac version will be launched later in 2007 in South Africa.

Clegg says his small local team has received a warm response from the , and will release EIOffice, to begin with, at selected Incredible connection stores in Gauteng.

Tags: Newsmaker  Software