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Kerio Workspace review

Verdict

An intriguing collaboration tool with good links to Microsoft Office, but it offers too little functionality for the price

Review Date: 26 May 2011

Reviewed By: Simon Jones

Price when reviewed: £105 per 5 users, 1yr support (£126 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
3 stars out of 6

Features & Design
3 stars out of 6

Value for Money
2 stars out of 6

Ease of Use
4 stars out of 6

Kerio Workspace is a collaboration tool. It will run on a workstation or a server, and provides simple intranet websites where colleagues can create and edit workspaces and the pages within them.

Once the administrator of a workspace has granted access as reader, contributor or administrator, users can see or edit its stored data. Each page can have one or more component on it, such as text, image, video, a list of hyperlinks or a file library.

The text and image components can be used to add explanatory text and illustrations around other controls. More useful is the File Library, which lets contributors upload files that can then be read or edited by others. Kerio Workspace indexes all the text it can find, so you can search and find matching documents instantly. Many different file types can be previewed in the web browser, or you can download and edit the file on your desktop.

Kerio Workspace

There’s a small helper application that needs to be installed on each workstation to make editing and saving files easier. Files from Kerio Workspace are downloaded to your Temp folder; when you’ve finished editing, the changed file is uploaded again. This works reasonably well most of the time, but if the application doesn’t exit properly, you could be left with an orphaned file containing edits on your PC.

Kerio Workspace keeps a history record showing who edited what and when, and you can use this to retrieve old versions of documents. You can also get a link to a file, or a particular version of a file, to send to someone by email or instant message. It pops up as plain text in a dialog box, ready for copying and pasting; we’d have preferred it to go directly to the clipboard.

You can nest workspaces within workspaces for deep organisation of your data – think folders within folders in a traditional file system – but workspaces have descriptions and comments as well as pages, and it’s the pages that can contain files.

There are only three possible layouts when creating a page, with one, two or three columns. The left and right columns are generally thinner and have a coloured background, but all columns can contain many controls. You can change their width by dragging a splitter bar, and you can change the layout later by clicking a button to the right of the page title. This also lets you see the page’s history, set its security, print it or email someone a link. Of course, that only works if they have the right permissions.

Kerio Workspace

Kerio Workspace is simple to set up and use, but allows for remarkable flexibility given so few features. Unfortunately, there’s no Wiki-style linking from text components, but the rich text editor does let you create tables, paste from Word, tidy up pasted code and copy formatting from one area of text to another. Other components such as image (JPEG, GIF & PNG) or video (FLV only) are also simple. The “mashup” component just gives you a textbox into which you can type or paste HTML – not a lot of help to less technical users.

You can set up newsfeeds to send you an email when someone edits or uploads content to workspaces marked as favourites. You can also view workspaces on the Mac or iPhone, where the pages are reformatted to fit the small screen. Windows Phone 7 devices aren’t supported.

For simple collaboration, beyond a network folder in which to store documents, Kerio Workspace provides easy-to-use facilities that can be installed quickly on Windows, Linux or Mac. For many users that makes it a good next step on the collaboration path.

The fly in the ointment is Microsoft SharePoint Foundation 2010, which does much the same job but has far more features and is available for free with Windows Server 2008. If you already have that within your organisation, Kerio Workspace looks very expensive for what it does.

Author: Simon Jones

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User comments

Remarkably superficial review!

You've covered the basics of Kerio Workspace, but drawn the most remarkable conclusion. You haven't mentioned that it installs on Windows, Linux and Mac OSes - easily, in every case. You haven't mentioned its enormous speed. You haven't mentioned its sheer ease of use and shallow learning curve. But you then go on to say that it's expensive! Compared to SharePoint, which is a major PITA to set up, manage and train people in. Not to mention Windows Server! We've been running Kerio Workspace on a basic Lenovo laptop since the earlier beta stage. We now use it as a central business system - but it's still running on the laptop, because it's so fast and so problem-free. It backs itself up (something else you didn't mention) and if it goes tits-up, you can restore your entire database easily from the zipped backups into a new Workspace installation. No complicated commands, no hassle.

For the price, there's nothing quite like Kerio Workspace. Until MacOS X Lion comes out, that is, when all the fruity goodness of Apple's WikiServer 3.0 becomes available to us ever-dissatisfied small-business IT manager. For the record, we stopped using Windows servers around 8 years ago, and have never looked back.

By MadaboutDana on 26 May 2011

... and I forgot to mention...

The above-mentioned laptop is running Ubuntu 10.04, which we've found to be the fastest environment for Workspace so far (we've experimented with it on Windows 7, for info). The file preview function is very impressive, by the way. The developers are also remarkably responsive.

By MadaboutDana on 26 May 2011

Apologies

Sorry, I see you have mentioned the multiple OS support (but only briefly!). I still think you've given Kerio much less credit than they deserve, for producing an astonishingly quick, astonishingly stable collaborative environment. It's not perfect yet, but the basics are all there, and they're rock-solid. The search engine is also astonishingly fast, and supports full Boolean searches.

By MadaboutDana on 26 May 2011

Sorry you thought this was superficial

I did say it was fast. I did say it was easy to use. However, there is only so much you can say in 800 words so some things had to be brief and others left out.

I don't agree that SharePoint is dificult to set up or learn and if you've not used Windows Server for 8 years, you've not used SharePoint Foundation 2010 which has an installation Wizard that goes Next... Next... Next... Finish.

Kerio Workspace is an interesting product but it has fewer features than its (free) competion. I'm sorry I didn't like it as much as you obviously do but I just found it too limited for the price.

By Simon_Jones_RWC on 27 May 2011

Fair nuff

Hm - I suppose I do object to the word "free". SharePoint itself is "free", but only runs on Windows Server, which certainly isn't free. You're right, I haven't used SharePoint in earnest for a long time (although I occasionally experiment with it when kind colleagues let me), and I'm delighted to hear it's so easy to set up. I would also agree that Kerio Workspace is missing some of the features that make SharePoint very powerful indeed, notably the ability to create mini-database systems "on the fly" (which I have always admired about SharePoint, even in its earliest incarnations). But don't go saying things like "SharePoint is free" - 'cos it isn't really, is it?!

By MadaboutDana on 27 May 2011

SharePoint Foundation IS Free

"...SharePoint Foundation 2010 ... is available for free with Windows Server 2008."

I think I made it clear that Microsoft make no charge for SharePoint Foundation but it requires Windows Server 2008 on which to run.

By Simon_Jones_RWC on 27 May 2011

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