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Sun Set to Release StarOffice 6.0

Sun Microsystems this week put its marketing muscle behind the launch of its next version of StarOffice, which the company known for Java and being the dot in dot-com back when that was fashionable hopes will eat into Microsoft's overwhelming share of the personal productivity software market.

StarOffice 6.0 will be generally available May 21, and it will run on Windows 95 through Windows XP, along with Linux and Sun Solaris.

Sun's major competitive push against Microsoft Office is on price, with Sun's claims for savings starting at 75 percent of what users would pay for Microsoft Office. Sun's public statement on StarOffice presented the suite as an "economical alternative to proprietary office productivity suites that are expensive and have restrictive licensing policies."

StarOffice represents a price increase over free, which is how the suite started out, although Sun still offers an open source version for free download at www.OpenOffice.org.

Sun's pricing claims are based on the suggested retail price of $76, with volume discounts that can take the software down to as little as $25 per copy. Sun is also providing an education version for the cost of the media and shipping.

The main features of StarOffice that Sun emphasizes are its interoperability with Microsoft Office and its use of XML instead of proprietary file formats. The suite consists of a word processor, a spreadsheet, a slide show creation/drawing tool and a database. A Microsoft Office suite with similar functionality, plus e-mail via Outlook, is Microsoft Office Professional, which retails for $579. Microsoft charges $149 for an education version, which doesn't include a database.

More information about StarOffice is available at wwws.sun.com/software/star/staroffice/6.0/.

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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