Oracle is plans to introduce its Collaboration Suite, comprising calendar, real-time conferencing, email, file system support, voicemail and workflow in one software package, by the end of the year.
Users can access the Oracle Collaboration Suite through Microsoft Outlook, a Web user interface, voice, wireless devices and fax.
Oracle said its software would offer a price challenge to Microsoft, which is introducing its new Software Assurance licensing programme at the end of this month.
The introductory price for a perpetual licence of Oracle Collaboration Suite is $60 per named user, regardless of the number of devices an individual uses to access information. Oracle claims the licence is cheaper than Microsoft's Enterprise Agreement Core Client Access Licence, which costs $67 per device accessing the server.
The Oracle software could provide users with a viable alternative to Microsoft, especially where the desktop environment comprises non-Windows systems.
Pat Leach, IT director at drug discovery firm Inpharmatica, said Oracle could prove a credible alternative to the MS Exchange server.
Leach manages a Linux server farm and a mixed desktop environment comprising 110 machines ranging from Silicon Graphics (SGI) workstations to NT, XP, Windows 2000 and Linux-based PCs.
He said the company was looking at a coherent e-mail system for all the desktop platforms. While Exchange provided good integration with the Windows system, Leach said he would not use it on the Unix and SGI systems.
"We have an issue delivering a heterogeneous e-mail and calendar system for the desktop," he said. "Oracle looks like it will provide a credible alternative."