Collaboration Service Tuned for Web Browsers

BOSTON (03/17/2000) - Companies looking to do projects online have an improved option from X-Collaboration Software, which has upgraded its collaboration service with a new browser interface and better support for third-party applications.

The changes to the hosted service, dubbed X-Community, mean that subscribers need only a Web browser to participate in and run document-oriented projects online. The original version of the service was launched last summer.

"It's one of the most underestimated technologies I've seen recently," says Nathaniel Palmer, an analyst with The Delphi Group, a research company in Boston. He says X-Community is a place where members of different audiences in different locations can share in a set of free-form and interrelated activities.

Traditional client/server applications, and even groupware such as Lotus Notes, are not well-suited to this kind of shared work, Palmer says. That's because Notes, for example, requires client software to be distributed, users to be trained and predefined databases to be set up.

X-Community 3.0 is the result of on-site surveys and observation at hundreds of company sites. X-Collaboration's engineers eliminated the Windows client that was part of the original service and rebuilt a simpler user interface to match the Web browser. Still, the client interface works with whatever Windows applications subscribers run on their desktops.

An important upgrade to Version 3.0 is better hooks for third-party services and applications, says Kevin Lo, the company's founder and chairman.

X-Collaboration has partnered with the Lexus-Nexus text search service, so an X-Community member who pays for the text service can find a document and pull it into the X-Community tool set, where it can be managed.

Another new X-Collaboration partner is VPNX.com, which will give X-Community members a secure virtual private network that lets them tunnel through the Internet.

Single memberships in X-Community are free. Each user gets a personal Web page, a shareable Web drive with 25M bytes of disk space and access to a free Business Center for a 30-day free trial.

The Business Centers are the nub of the X-Community: virtual spaces with an array of tools and services for creating and organizing projects. Corporate clients pay for them according to usage, based on the number of users who can access the center and the related storage space. For up to 10 users, the charge is $100 per month, including 100M bytes of storage. An additional 100M bytes of storage is another $50 per month.

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