Open-Xchange has released an Outlook-compatible groupware server specifically designed for smaller businesses, and designed as a simple, open-source alternative to the likes of Microsoft Exchange.

Open-Xchange Express Edition (OXEE) is the company's first product to move beyond Open-Xchange's roots with Suse Linux - it is built on top of Canonical's increasingly popular Ubuntu Linux, which is known for its ease of use.

OXEE doesn't require an underlying operating system, turning a bare-metal system into an email and groupware server.

The company designed OXEE for smaller businesses that might not have an IT department or any Linux expertise, so it installs through a simple interface. Features include synchronising public, private and shared folders, accepting or declining appointments through Outlook, and managing private appointments, tasks, contacts and "Free/Busy" status.

It has an Ajax-based web interface that lets users access the server regardless of the platform they're on.

Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth said Ubuntu's ease of use has changed the IT game for smaller businesses.

"Integrated, ready-to-work software solutions like Open-Xchange Express Edition on Ubuntu make it easier for non-technical SMEs to increase productivity and spur innovation while reducing their IT costs at the same time," he said in a statement.