SoftMaker

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SoftMaker Software GmbH is a software company that produces office software and is located in Nuremberg, Germany. SoftMaker was founded in 1989 by Martin Kotulla.[1] In 1991, it also added digital fonts to its offerings. Best known in Germany and the EU, SoftMaker is slowly pursuing the North American market,[1] where it faces stiff competition from both free and commercial competitors.

Students, teachers, schools, and universities can purchase SoftMaker Office for a lower price through the "Schulen ans Netz" ("get schools onto the net") initiative, part of SoftMaker's academic sales program. Additionally, a free version named FreeOffice is available.[2]

To promote its digital font sales, SoftMaker publishes one font each month free for download from its FreeFont web site.

SoftMaker Office[edit]

SoftMaker Office is SoftMaker's flagship product, an office suite marketed to home, small business and educational users.[1] The current version, called SoftMaker Office 2012 consists of the word processor TextMaker (compatible with Microsoft Word), the spreadsheet PlanMaker (compatible with Microsoft Excel) the presentation software application SoftMaker Presentations (compatible with Microsoft PowerPoint) and the scripting language BasicMaker (compatible with Visual Basic for Applications).

SoftMaker Office 2012 is available for Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Android. Its predecessor, SoftMaker Office 2010, is available for Windows CE, and Pocket PCs (Windows Mobile handheld devices). The 2006 version was also available for FreeBSD and Handheld PCs.

A database application DataMaker, as of 2012, is in development.

Currently, SoftMaker Office supports all popular Microsoft Office file formats, as well as its own proprietary formats. SoftMaker claims to be working on ODF compliant formats,[1] but currently supports OpenDocument only in its word processor.

SoftMaker Product Equivalent MS Product Platforms File Formats
TextMaker Word Win32, Linux, Android, Pocket PC, WinCE .doc, .docx, .rtf, .odt, .tmd, .pwd, .txt, .sxw (import only), .pdf (export)
PlanMaker Excel Win32, Linux, Android, Pocket PC, WinCE .xls, .xlsx, .csv, .pmd, .rtf, .dbf, .txt, .slk, .dif, .pdf (export)
Presentations PowerPoint Win32, Linux, Android, Pocket PC, WinCE .ppt, .pps, .pptx, .ppsx, .prd, .rtf, .bmp, .png, .tif, .jpg, .pdf (export)
BasicMaker VBA (limited) Win32 .bas, .txt
DataMaker Access Win32 due approximately 2013  ???

Competitive strategy[edit]

The SoftMaker Office sales strategy is based on cross-platform usability along with reasonable pricing and free post-sale customer service. However, since SoftMaker Office is not free like competitors LibreOffice, Apache OpenOffice, or Calligra Suite, its greatest marketing strength is its high degree of Microsoft Office compatibility.[3][4][5][6] As a major sales point, SoftMaker cites its ability to render graphs and charts within PlanMaker which are often indistinguishable from those created within Microsoft's Excel. Significantly, this level of compatibility extends to non-Windows platforms.[5] Even on Windows platforms, SoftMaker Office competes with native Windows office suites based on its Microsoft Office compatibility.

SoftMaker also claims its Office suite is faster, with smaller memory and hard drive footprints than Microsoft Office or OpenOffice.org.[4]

The most significant areas of incompatibility, like with all non-Microsoft office suites, are in documents which use VBA scripts. While BasicMaker is a step forward, it still doesn't offer seamless VBA compatibility. There are also some minor incompatibilities with page layout formatting where page boundaries may not match without adjusting the margin settings. Most of these problems have been solved in SoftMaker Office 2008.[citation needed]

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