Coming at a time when Microsoft customers are mulling over the upcoming Windows Vista platform, Novell announced its Open Workgroup Suite, which the company says is an open, low-cost alternative to the Windows-centric solution.

The new suite includes server and desktop components, management tools, collaboration capabilities, and open source office products, including Novell Open Enterprise Server with SUSE Linux Enterprise Server, Novell GroupWise for collaboration, Novell ZENworks Suite for cross-platform systems management, Novell Linux Desktop and the popular OpenOffice, which is compatible with files created by Microsoft Office.

"Our customers are seeking cost-effective, secure and reliable alternatives to proprietary workgroup solutions," said Jeff Jaffe, Novell executive vice president and chief technology officer. "The Open Workgroup Suite was created in response to the market's demand for greater choice and flexibility and is a perfect example of our strategy to source and deliver the best blend of technologies based on open standards and open source. As a result, customers receive the best innovation, the right packaging and a competitive price."

Novell thinks the Open Workgroup Suite can save companies as much as 70 percent as compared to the cost of similar Microsoft solutions. Pricing for the Linux platform version of the suite is based on lease terms or perpetual licensing. Lease terms are $80 per year and perpetual licensing costs $110 per device or user. A perpetual license for a cross-platform version is available for $150 per user or device. Novell is also offering upgrade pricing to its existing customers of Open Enterprise Server, NetWare, GroupWise, ZENworks or competing products.