Oracle is offering to migrate Microsoft customers to its own Collaboration Suite for what it claims is a quarter of the cost of upgrading to Exchange 2000.
When Collaboration Suite was first launched in September Oracle said its database email, voicemail and file-searching package would challenge Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Notes on price.
The latest offer, announced at the OracleWorld conference in San Francisco, is an attempt to attract Microsoft customers unhappy at the pace and cost of upgrades.
"There's a lot of customers who are very upset with Microsoft right now," said Mark Jarvis, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Oracle. "It has changed its enterprise licensing, it has dramatically increased prices and on 31 December it obsoletes Exchange 5.5 and NT, so there's a lot of customers being pushed to upgrade."
The total cost of upgrading to Exchange 2000 is $100 (£63) per user, compared to $29 (£18) per user for moving to Collaboration Suite, according to research commissioned by Oracle.
The first UK customer working on a Collaboration Suite implementation is groceries distributor Peter's Food Service. The company is consolidating Lotus Notes and Linux-based Qmail and Squirrel email systems onto Oracle for 350 users across 18 sites nationwide.
Analysts said the move is likely to lead to better deals for users by forcing prices down in the messaging market.
"This is a very price-sensitive market because we have already seen a bitter battle between Microsoft and Lotus, and this will increase the price pressure in an already tight market," said Eric Woods, research director of the technology group at analyst Ovum.
While Oracle will not dislodge Lotus or Microsoft's massive installed bases, all the vendors will have to address the increased demand for collaboration features, explained Woods.
"Microsoft is weak in collaboration and for Oracle the future would have to be part of a wider strategy around Oracle's 9i application server and integrated with some Oracle applications," he said.
Oracle unveiled new features for the second release of Collaboration Suite at OracleWorld, which is due to ship in the first half of next year and will include online meetings, instant messaging and co-browsing.
The cost for a perpetual licence of Collaboration Suite is $60 (£38) per named end user. A hosted option is also now available with prices ranging from $5-$10 (£3-£6) per user per month excluding licence costs.
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