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Sun Microsystems

StarOffice 6.0 Beta Available 465

Lumpish Scholar and 753 other people wrote in to let us know that Sun has released its beta of Star Office 6. CNET has a blurb about the release as well. I was hoping that Sun's site might be unclogged enough to try it out myself, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards today.
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StarOffice 6.0 Beta Available

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  • MS support... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by garcia ( 6573 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:00PM (#2379499)
    from the article: The new version of StarOffice is simplified to make file exchange easier. The software has support for XML file formats; more robust Microsoft Office import and export filters, including support for Office XP; and redesigned dialog boxes, new templates and graphics.

    will the "more robust support" actually be decent enough for serious transfers between my Word documents? Also an important feature would be importing WordPerfect8 files. I have 100's of papers written in WP8 and for me to switch over would require filters for that. Anyone know anything about that?

    I am going to try it as soon as I see some more information (the website was lacking what I really wanted to know).

    I really hope I can ditch WP8 (although it is still the best for what I need) and run something more up-to-date :)

    Enjoy the download :)
  • It's a hard battle (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ryanw ( 131814 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:02PM (#2379513)
    The problem with StarOffice is that it hasn't completely worked to import/export word/excel documents. Until that day people will never truly be able to switch to it. I would LOVE the company I work for to switch to this software. But until it's completely MSOffice complient nobody can use it.

    And just as it gets good at opening MSOffice 97 docs. They change their document just enough to screw everyone over with the release of Office2000. And just as that starts to work they screw it up enough to not work with XP.

    How hard is it REALLY to parse out Word Documents and have it work???? I haven't been involved in the project, but I would really like to hear some feedback to why nobody can open freaking word documents. The TRUTH .. not our typical "MS Just Sucks".
  • Cool! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by astroboy ( 1125 ) <> on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:04PM (#2379538) Homepage
    They lost the desktop, added better font handling, and do XML... this is great.

    One thing I couldn't see -- and I can't get at the downloads to check -- is to see if their Presentation software, Impress, can play movies in slides now. This is actually a big thing; in the hard sciences, where a lot of people use non-Windows and give presentations, one of the major problems for people who want to switch to Linux is that if you have results you want to show in movie form, you're pretty much stuck with using PowerPoint, or exiting your presentation and starting up xanim or something...

  • Huge Improvement (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jmkaza ( 173878 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:05PM (#2379554)
    When I first tried StarOffice my intent was to use it for a week to see if it was a viable alternative to MS Office. I didn't make it through the day. Kudos to Sun for finally taking the hint and creating a product that any Office user can use with little to no relearning curve. With Microsoft's new subscription licensing program, this couldn't have come at a better time. Hopefully 6.0 will prove to be a competitive product.
  • Sigh (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JediTrainer ( 314273 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:08PM (#2379584)
    Any idea of we'll be seeing a compatible implementation of something that can do everything Outlook can do (including connecting to an Exchange server)? I don't mean just email, but I mean Calendar, Tasks, Contacts booking meetings etc.

    As soon as I can get something that would replace this one last piece, then I can switch away from Windows in my company (as I have at home). Unfortunately, the company relies very much on Outlook's functionality, and will not move away from Exchange server, so if I want to move it's up to me to find and install a compatible alternative, but so compatible that the REST of the users can stay on Outlook if they choose to.

    In my opinion, this is one thing that any true Office suite needs before MS-Office can be truly replaced. As buggy and insecure as Outlook is, it organizes the company that I work for, and it can not be removed from my desktop until a fully compatible replacement is available. It's the one last thing that ties me to Windows.
  • by ( 302388 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:16PM (#2379660)
    What is exactly the difference (technically speaking) between staroffice and openoffice. Are there real differences or is staroffice iddentical to openoffice with some commercial features (like netscape mozilla) ?
  • by zog karndon ( 309839 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:19PM (#2379679)
    Sigh. The Word 2000 (and XP) file format is well documented; however, you do have to sign an NDA in order to obtain it. Further, it is *not* dependent on processor type, and so forth - MacWord reads WinWord files (and vice versa).
  • by JahToasted ( 517101 ) <toastafari&yahoo,com> on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:20PM (#2379686) Homepage
    They change their document just enough to screw everyone over with the release of Office2000. And just as that starts to work they screw it up enough to not work with XP

    Would you expect Microsoft to do anything less

    How hard is it REALLY to parse out Word Documents and have it work????

    Parsing isn't that hard most of the difficulty comes in getting all the different OLE objects embedded in the document to work. Star/Openoffice, Koffice, AbiWord can all format the fonts, layouts, etc, quite well. The problem comes when you have an Excel Spreadsheet embedded in the word document as a table. Then each cell of the excel table is a word document. Then you gotta think about Macros, VB, etc.

    Getting these things to work right is hard even for microsoft. Where I work now I have an Access database (I should've demanded they use something else, but they already had it installed everywhere) deployed to over 20 sites. I wrote the database in Access 97, but making it work in Access 2000 can be very tricky. Not only that, but at some places some of the Visual Basic Modules won't work in 97... welcome to my hell...

    Anyway the point being, Microsoft has trouble in making THEIR office read previous MS Office files. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for someone who doesn't have the specs to make an app capable of reading them.

  • by SilentChris ( 452960 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:21PM (#2379696) Homepage
    I'm an ardent support of Office itself (one of three really good MS products nowadays, along with the latest version of IE and the service pack 2 release of Windows 2000). However, I was sorely disappointed by the "improvements" offered by Office XP.

    A lot of what was in it was already offered in Office 2000 (an underrated application suite) without the messy product activation. I recommend if you can get a copy of Office 2000, do so. It's very stable and runs like a champ.

  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jermz ( 6352 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:21PM (#2379702)
    Try Insight from bynari [][]. They make both a client (Insight) and a server (Insight Server). The client can talk to an Exchange server, and includes calendar, addressbook, and email, just like outlook, but on Linux. The server is feature-compatible with Exchange, and is built on exim, openldap, and cyrus IMAP/POP. Outlook clients can talk to the Insight server just fine, even transparently. I am demoing it right now, and it might just replace Exchange here, and allow me to run Linux exclusively.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:22PM (#2379712)
    Yes agreed.

    People don't understand that Word documents don't make sense to send via email or what have you. I recently sent a company my resume and they sent me back a Word document. I forwarded it to my friend and went to read it on his computer... It was like 5 lines and basically said "yeah thanks for sending that resume we'll look at it someday"... Anyone who would even think to send that in anything other than plain text should be executed
  • by mj6798 ( 514047 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:22PM (#2379715)
    How hard is it REALLY to parse out Word Documents and have it work???? I haven't been involved in the project, but I would really like to hear some feedback to why nobody can open freaking word documents. The TRUTH .. not our typical "MS Just Sucks".

    Word format not only is a complex binary format requiring documentation at multiple levels, it has significant undocumented portions. Worse yet, it allows executable content which can call on a lot of Windows-specific facilities. MS Word format really does suck, and that's not an accident: Microsoft likes it that way. The implications for users aren't good, though: vendor lock-in, viruses, and data that becomes inaccessible in a few years are only some of the problems resulting from the way MS Word stores its documents.

  • Re:Office XP (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hadean ( 32319 ) <hadean.dragon+sl ... minus city> on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:31PM (#2379785)
    I just checked on my system, and Word XP is using 11.1 megs... And it loads in a few seconds... and NO, I don't have anything preloading for me (I hate things loading at bootup). I have a Duron 800 w/ 192 megs of RAM, too... Not that big of a system...
  • Re:Cool! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mz001b ( 122709 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:32PM (#2379787)
    I agree with this 100%. This is the only reason that there is a windows partition on my laptop. I need to show movies of my simulations in talks, and having them inline is soo much nicer. Switching to a standalone application takes momentum away from the talk.

    My recollection is that SO 6.0 does not yet have this ability. The first Linux suite that offers this is the one that I will switch to. MS Office compatibility is low on my list -- everyone I interact with uses some flavor of Unix or Linux.

  • by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <> on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:34PM (#2379810) Journal
    How often has it been said that the first MS Office user in an office eventually "forces" the whole office to upgrade, simply by passing around files in the latest default format.

    I remember one computer our office got last year, it installed 2000 by default and when I tried to remove it and install a site licensed copy of 97 it installed, but told me I had an invalid license whenever I tried to run any of its programs. I later tried to reinstall with a win98 disk. But I couldn't get the device drivers out of the install disk as it was locked to only be used as a reinstall everything disc from boot. Tried many things, never could get it working perfectly without just letting it be on office 2000. So as our site licenses offered us 2000 Prof for less then 50 dollars a peice I went ahead with the upgrade. I do like office 2000, but still embarrased that I let MS get the best of me :(
  • MSOffice & XML (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ryanw ( 131814 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:44PM (#2379876)
    Here's Microsoft's Plans for XML. I think it's very interesting how they word things: /xmloffice.htm []

    Because of the many benefits associated with the use of XML, customers have demanded easy, robust support for XML, and Microsoft has answered them. Currently, Microsoft is concentrating on Microsoft Access and Excel--the applications in which XML can have the biggest impact.

    Access and EXCEL? They just want to keep Word as proprietary as possible. Word is the one people can't get in or out of. Of course they don't want to focus on XML for Word. Jeash .. People have been able to export Access & Excel documents to tab deliminated files for years now. Thats why they're not worried about XLM for those apps. People can already do whatever they want to spreadsheet files, etc.. Customers need to be more pissed off at Microsoft so they force Word to use XML.
  • Re:Office XP (Score:5, Interesting)

    by John Fulmer ( 5840 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:47PM (#2379901)
    Tell you what I did a few years ago, when I wanted to know why my nice beefy NT workstation was eating most of my memory, with no services running:

    Install NT4. Note the available memory on bootup, before doing anything.

    Install Office. Note the available memory after bootup, but before doing anything.

    Do the math and wonder why JUST installing Office significantly decreased the available memory on bootup.

    Start Office. Wonder why the used memory doesn't increase much at all. Hmmmmm.

    A black box approach to be sure, but still very interesting.

  • Re:Sigh (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:51PM (#2379917)
    Outlook is a pretty pathetic "groupware platform", but it does have a nice calendar. Notes is a great groupware platform, but has 20 years of cruft that you need to learn to use it.

    Which means there's a big opportunity for someone to do better. However, most people don't get 'groupware' (thinking it to be calendaring+mail), and the open source community seems to be content on hacking on IMAP frontends that look like outlook.

    One thing to give up on is Exchange wire compatiblity. Too complex, waste of time, won't happen. Forget it and use the LDAP/IMAP/HTTP interfaces into Exchange.
  • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) <{akaimbatman} {at} {}> on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @03:52PM (#2379927) Homepage Journal
    It uses the same amount of RAM, eh? And how do you judge this? I'm betting with the task manager, right? You do realize that WinNT/2000/XP all pre-allocate about 2/3s of the memory don't you? That's why you can have 512MB of RAM and see 300 used on boot. To be perfectly honest, taskman is not really useful for tracking memory usage because of this and the fact that it does not show preloaded DLLs. Can you see a list of DLLs from taskman? No, you can't. You need special tools to do that.

    Previous versions of Office (Office 97) were pretty obvious due to the "office quickstart" icon that it places in the "startup" group. Later versions of Windows however, have a DLL cache which allows DLLs to be stored for preloading on bootup. That of course is why Windows machines take so *$%^#$ long to boot to a usable state and why 70% of a program's memory usage is not reported. Now to be fair, Unix TOP isn't much better. In order to get a reasonable view, you NEED some form of kernel hooks.
  • by Rothfuss ( 47480 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `ssufhtor.sirhc'> on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @04:04PM (#2380034) Homepage
    Does anyone know if they have expanded the dimensions of the spreadsheet? Problem with M$O XP also... 65536 Rows is usually enough, but I have hit the 256th Column more times than I can count. There really isn't a good program out there (that I know of) for working with very large data sets. If they wanted to put themselves ahead of M$, here is an opportunity. There is no reason that the worksheet can't be re-dimensionalized by the user if s/he needs increased space. I realize this would disallow full compatibility with M$ Excel, but I'd be more than happy with less than 100% compatibility if it is due to shortcomings in M$ and I have to "opt-in" to the incompatibility.

  • Re:Double Standards (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @04:08PM (#2380063) Homepage
    Personally, I wouldn't even say bundling is the issue with me - for me it is their shoddy business practices (rolls back to 1994 or so):

    1. The internet is slowly being brought to the masses. Windows 3.1 exists, but need the WinSock TCP/IP stack to get in the net - fortunately, a free version is available, and is included by ISPs. Mosaic is also included...

    2. Netscape builds and releases a much improved "Mosaic", called Navigator. Microsoft yawns, sees it all as a "fad", that the consumer won't embrace.

    3. 1995 rolls around, and the consumer is raving mad for the net - Bill looks around and screams WTF!? Netscape is raking in money from sales of Navigator, creates Communicator which adds email, news, and web site creation tools.

    4. In a mad dash, Bill throws out Windows 95, which had been worked on for a while, but had no internet capability (AFAIK). Rushes to make a TCP/IP stack (probably bought WinSock, knowing him).

    5. Bill then sees that the internet explosion isn't a fad, and that he must "posess" it - rapidly IE is created, and is released for free to the masses.

    At this point, things go crazy - because while Netscape isn't free - it is, sorta - but people for some reason are too stupid (or honest?) to figure it out: Netscape is "free" for students - simply check the student box on the download form, and you can download it for free - no authentication or anything required. Still, most people see it as expensive, and the marketing/FUD is done for IE to point out how expensive Netscape was (which it really wasn't that expensive - $70.00 or so for the deluxe version).

    6. MS then "bundles" IE with later copies of 95, then fully integrates it into 98 - thus sealing the fate of Netscape, which went on to become a footnote (yes, I know it still exists, etc - but in the whole scheme of things, Netscape is just the tool, and not the company it was any longer).

    It is this major undercutting that is a bad business practice - they saw that such software was cheap and easy to make, and thus had no "real" value, unlike an office package. But that doing so would leverage them into a whole new market, a much larger possible market - to market that office software to.

    Now, Sun is doing the same thing - who knows if it is for revenge over Java or what - or if _they_ have some ulterior motive (which they probably do), which would allow them to leverage into another market...
  • Re:Sigh (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @04:13PM (#2380089)
    Any idea of we'll be seeing a compatible implementation of something that can do everything Outlook can do (including connecting to an Exchange server)?

    At the other end of the problem, the free software community is in dire need of a Samba-like clone of Exchange's MAPI abilities.

    Right now, Linux still makes a better server than it does a desktop. I've replaced NT file/print servers with Samba+Linux; I've used PostgreSQL+Linux instead of MS SQL Server; but there is no way to replace an NT Exchange server with anything and still take advantage of Outlook's sweet MAPI groupware functionality.

    I just don't understand why there isn't a free software Exchange clone out there. I'll tell you what - Exchange aint cheap; if a stable replacement existed for *nix, it would be one less reason for anyone to run NT Server.

    Unfortunately, I'm not smart enough to do it.

  • Re:My first question (Score:2, Interesting)

    by akula1 ( 463239 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @04:58PM (#2380132) Homepage
    Actually my corporation (Fortune 500) uses Lotus Notes for email/calendar etc.. I don't how many other large companies this is true for, but there is nothing blocking us from going to Star Office if we decide it is robust enough.
    Our CIO has demanded a report on why we can't go to Star Office instead of Office XP. The asset management people showed him the figures for MS's new liscensing scam er.. scheme. Therefore he wants to go to something non-MS.
    Are any other companies going this way?
  • Re:Cool! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JanneM ( 7445 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @05:04PM (#2380160) Homepage
    I use Galeon, actually. I run it in full-screen mode, and use the mouse pointer as a pointer for the talk. The presentation is normal web pages with discreet next and back links at the bottom, and an 'up' link to a start page with thumbnails of all slides, so I can pick and choose at the inevitable question phase at the end.

    This also means I can run movies and such inline, as it's just to put those into the slides/webpages as usual.

    A friend avoids clicking links by going through the slides beforehand, backing up, then using the 'forward' hotkey to switch, but I feel more comfortable clicking.

  • by mikael ( 484 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @05:05PM (#2380164)
    I don't understand why the makers of Office-like applications haven't done like the CAD-business. They created the OpenDWG [] alliance in order to reverse-engineer Autodesk's proprietary .dwg-format for storing CAD-drawings and succeeded with the task. Mabye an OpenDOC (no pun intended, Apple) alliance would speed up the acceptance and usability of open alternatives to MS-Office.

  • Re:a modest proposal (Score:4, Interesting)

    by innocent_white_lamb ( 151825 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @05:28PM (#2380331)
    The problem is, if you're trying to move away from needing MS Office because you want to switch platforms or save $$, you can't use Word for translation. ----> Sure you can. Set it up as a server app. "MS Word Translating Server". One Winders box sitting off in the dusty corner. Got a Word file? Just tell your box to blast it over to the translating server, The translating server will send it back to you in a moment and off you go.

    Net cost: One Windows computer, one copy of Office-whatever. And a few hours/days of fiddling around with Word macros.

    Everyone in your office can be running whatever you want.
  • Re:yes (Score:2, Interesting)

    by innocent_white_lamb ( 151825 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @05:32PM (#2380350)
    You won't find the source for Star Office at You'll find "much of the source", but it is missing a lot of the really good stuff unfortunately. My understanding is that is due to third-party licensing of some components and Sun can't let them out of the door in source format. Therefore, what we have is OpenOffice (a source-available most-of Star Office thingy) and Star Office, a binary-only (but free of charge) application.
  • Re:a modest proposal (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @06:18PM (#2380618)
    Excellent idea. Makes me think of another one. Set up a web site where people could send word docs they have received and get them translated into rtf or whatever. That way you could do it from home.
  • Gobe Productive (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @06:23PM (#2380635)
    It may not be open source, it may not have originally come from Linux ... it's Gobe Productive 3.0 and I think it deserves a little advertising here.

    Productive 1.0 started as a product of the team who created ClarisWorks (now AppleWorks), but for BeOS. With it's wonderful interface, and the backing of the great but now dwindling BeOS community, Gobe stayed alive and released a 2.0 version a year or two before Be began to go under.

    Productive is a great product, and I suggest you all look here [] to find a great alternative to Microsoft Office and Sun StarOffice. Now for both Windows, Linux and BeOS.
  • by Giant Robot ( 56744 ) on Tuesday October 02, 2001 @06:52PM (#2380830) Homepage
    Actually the sig is just four Hanzi characters () that make up a traditional chinese compound phrase. You can do that buy typing html "escape sequences" in plain ascii in your documents using '&#' followed by a five digit integer or an 'x' followed by a hex unicode number in ascii.

    This convension was defined by the unicode and w3c corsortium (I believe), so if your browser is unicode compliant, then it should render the characters correctly.

    The thing I'm wondering is that why don't chinese online newspapers use this convention. I mean, it uses more space but newspapers serve text articles anyways, small compared to images. Plus those Hong Kong newspapers can properly display many extended Big5 characters within unicode common in HK without using their Big5-hkscs standard (btw which only windows supports properly! I can't getting it working for anything else)

    That's another issue of course, sorry for the rant.

  • Re:almost there... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NutscrapeSucks ( 446616 ) on Wednesday October 03, 2001 @03:24AM (#2382238)
    From what I've heard, Sun doesn't feel that SO is a real MSO competitor yet (on a features level), so they are resisting marketing it very heavily. and instead letting it spread by word of mouth or have it be discovered by cost conscious purchasers. Ultimately they are doing this to fuck with MS and not to make any real money, so it's understandable that you won't see a heavy marketing campaign.

    Note that WordPerfect and Lotus have 100x the name recognition of StarOffice and competitive products and they've failed to compete on price. It's good to see Sun not fall into the same trap and not embarrass themselves by pushing SO before it's ready.

    Also, at this point there is no plan for a Mac port. That gives MSO "" market coverage and StarOffice only 95% or so. :)

Our business in life is not to succeed but to continue to fail in high spirits. -- Robert Louis Stevenson