October 23, 2002
Chandler Not Outlook Killer, After All?

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 . It's not quite there yet but I bet it will be. I'm imagining there are teams of programs around the world working on this at this very moment. In a few years generic PC's will come with a free, competent office suite bundled. That will challenge Microsoft's hegemony in desktop applications.

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.

Posted by mitch@osafoundation.org at October 23, 2002 07:52 AM


I'd like to give some info to you that helped me understand SOHOs/SOMO. In Colorado where I live, here are some numbers which helped me. The #'s are the numbers of companies with less than 20 employees to greater than 500::

133,000 = Total number of organizations
117,000 = Number with less than 20 employees
14,000 = Number between 20-99 employees
2,500 = Number between 99-500 employees
269 = Number greater than 500 employees

So, you can see that there is a GREAT need for what you've proposed.

How can I help?


Posted by: Kevin Cullis at November 9, 2002 08:58 AM

I would be intersted in beta testing Chanler
Wher can i bown load it
could some one send me the link

Posted by: Terry at January 4, 2003 08:18 AM

I have been an extensive user of ECCO. It had some great features! However, one of the best features in a Information Manager was in a product called Cross Ties (1995). The product relationally tied each person to each product to each company etc. Thus when you looked up a project you could get all the "cross tied" information realted to it. A feature of this type will suck in all of us project, product and people focused users.... Waiting to see the Beta Testing!!!

Posted by: Joe S. at February 28, 2003 07:31 AM