I've already seen the propensity of the media to position OSAF's project as, "an Outlook Killer" (Slashdot). CNET's story yesterday opened with this: "Can a fledgling nonprofit organization with half a dozen employees challenge the largest software company in the world?" In the real world, matters are considerably more complicated.
One thing CNET did get right -- we're not aiming Chandler at the large enterprise market. As shipped, I'm certain it will flunk the checklist because we are not doing the work to make it scale to an organization of 1,000 or 10,000 people. Selling to large enterprises is where Microsoft rakes in the big money for Exchange server(s) and license fees . In that sense, as CNET reported accurately, we're not a threat to Microsoft's business.
We are trying to level the playing field by giving small & medium organizations collaborative tools which are as good as what large companies have had. We think we can do this in a way which doesn't have the administrative burden of Notes or Exchange. We're trying to be faithful to the original spirit of the personal computer -- empowerment through decentralization.
If Chandler gets initial traction, then perhaps with another turn of the wheel it will grow up, much as Linux did over the course of quite a few years to become an enterprise-class product. So, in this sense, it's a potential long-term threat, just as Linux emerged as competition for Microsoft in the server market. If I were Microsoft, I'd be worried about open source in general, not about losing Outlook/Exchange market share any time soon. With or without OSAF, I believe all of the applications in Office will be commoditized with equivalent free versions. I can see it happening
Another way in which headlines can mislead is that, from an internal vantage point, we're focused on creating an innovative, high quality product that users love. We're not thinking about how to beat Microsoft. Competition is a great motivator, but it's not the only one. Giving computer users more software options by making a great product is quite a motivator as well.
I've spent my time criticizing Microsoft in public and will do so again as circumstances dictate. A project of this scope, however, needs to be fueled by something positive, not by a desire to get even or show them a thing or two (not that my public criticism reduces to sour grapes!).
P.S. CNET should have egg on its face for including the following: "Kapor said he also has no plans to seek venture capital and has no visions of an initial public offering for his venture." OSAF is a non-profit -- I can't remember the time a non-profit raised VC or did an IPO.