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Sun Microsystems

StarOffice 6.0 419

Lawrence Teo writes "News.com, Infoworld.com, and eWeek are all reporting that Sun's StarOffice 6.0, which will be released on May 21, will cost a measly $75.95. That's less than a quarter the cost of Microsoft Office. Details are also available at Sun's own StarOffice 6.0 website." Sun's press release mentions the new features, although if you're familiar with openoffice.org, you've got a pretty good idea of what StarOffice has to offer. An anonymous reader also points out that Sun has effectively one-upped Microsoft's various schemes to get its software into schools by making an unlimited donation of StarOffice to China's Ministry of Education.
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StarOffice 6.0

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  • $75.95 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @08:38PM (#3526906)
    A measly $75.95? Phew, surely there can't be a comparable office suite [openoffice.org] that's any cheaper than that!

    • I don't understand the difference, either.

      From the Star Office web site, "A single-user license lets you load the StarOffice office suite onto as many as five individual workstations or PCs..."

      Nice licensing, but it doesn't compare with Open Office's unlimited multiple-user licenses for free.

      Also, from the Star Office web site, "Through the OpenOffice.org Project, Sun has made full use of feedback from highly talented open source programmers. The StarOffice 6.0 suite shares a codebase with the OpenOffice.org 1.0 office suite, future enhancement to the base source code are planned to be available, providing the best of both worlds to users."

      Sun has certainly done everyone in the world community a great service by open sourcing Star Office, but it has not explained the difference between its version and Open Office.

      I just hate glib marketing writing like this. Certainly the web site writer knew what we wanted to know. Why not just tell us?
      • The difference?

        A database program, for one. More licensed clip art and fonts, for another.

        • I've heard that, but I looked in several places on their web site, and didn't find it.
          • by comcn ( 194756 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @10:06PM (#3527361) Journal

            From the General FAQ [sun.com]:

            Q. What are the differences between StarOffice 6.0 software and the OpenOffice.org 1.0?

            A. StarOffice 6.0 softwre is a commercial product aimed at organizations and consumers while OpenOffice.org 1.0 is aimed at users of free software, independent developers and the open source community. StarOffice includes licensed-in, third-party technology such as:

            • Spellchecker and thesaurus
            • Database component (Software AG Adabas D).
            • Select fonts including Windows metrically equivalent fonts and Asian language fonts
            • Select filters, including WordPerfect filters and Asian word processor filters
            • Integration of additional templates and extensive clipart gallery

            In addition to product differences, StarOffice offers:

            • Updates/upgrades on CD
            • Sun installation and user documentation
            • 24x7 Web based support for enterprises and consumers
            • Help desk support
            • Warranties and indemnification guarantee Training
            • Professional services for migration and deployment

            ...so you get the standard OpenOffice + a few extra goodies + the standard free software money-maker, support.

            As for me, I've installed OpenOffice 1.0 (I'm a TeX sort of chap), buy I can see this being great for businesses.

      • Three buzzwords for the business world and software:
        1) Support
        2) Support
        3) Support

        If you buy staroffice, you have support. If you download openoffice for your business, you have to contract in support, which is probably as much per seat as staroffice.

        If no money exchanges hands, especially when it comes to the almighty GPL, there is absolutely NO GUARANTEE WHATSOEVER that the software works. Sun stakes its very life and reputation on the fact that StarOffice will work perfectly. True, the open source community produces good code, but there's no GUARANTEE of good code. Sun spent 8 months in semi-public beta of this baby (I've been using it since September).

        Sun found that more companies would use StarOffice if they charged a bit for it than if it were free, for precisely this reason. Remember, the market for office suites is corporate, not personal, especially for Sun.
      • assistance (Score:4, Funny)

        by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @01:12AM (#3527953)
        The commercial version includes a talking paper clip.
    • Re:$75.95 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dougga ( 232037 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @12:54AM (#3527904)
      I believe due to some testing fluke, I was able to purchase and download StarOffice 6.0 last week. The Price was $75 I don't recall the extra $0.95 but what's the difference.

      I wasn't paying much attention to the updates so I was a bit surprised that all of the integrated mail and scheduling tools were gone.

      The products that remain seem to be excellent with improvments in graphics and ease of use. I haven't used them enough to really be an expert, but they seem to be clean.

      I'm highly dissapointed with the lack of scheduling and email. The integration with the Palm OS was a huge advantage for me and I was planning to push this suite to clients in large part on the merits of the clean Palm integration. Nevertheless, it seems to be a win.

      Now, I need to find someone who will write a clean integration tool for the Palm on Linux functionality. KPilot is a mess and J-Pilot doesn't intigrate with any other desktop apps. Sigh....
  • by rjamestaylor ( 117847 ) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @08:39PM (#3526907) Journal
    An apt name change, considering the overwhelming majority of potential users under this plan.
    • by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @09:03PM (#3527060)
      JALALABAD -- March 26, 2002 -- Sun Microsystems, Inc. today announced a donation to the Ministry of Jihad (MOJ) of al Qaeda that will make StarOffice[tm] 6.0 (branded CrescentOffice[tm] in Islamic markets) an office suite of choice in madrassas throughout the Muslim world. Today's donation will provide unlimited access to one of the world's largest open productivity suites based on open source development. The technology will be available to be replicated and distributed to the students, teachers and administrators of the educational institutions governed by the ministry. The discussions today are a major expansion of the existing relationship between Sun and the MOJ.

      "In the quest for learning and understanding, there is really no greater tool than technology," said Kim Jones, vice president of global education and research, Sun Microsystems. "With this contribution of software, Sun and the Ministry of Jihad will work closely with students, educators and suicide bombers to enhance their ability to compete in a global economy, while opening the door to greater productivity and achievements throughout the Islamic world. Sun Microsystems will provide al Qaeda with the office productivity tools they need to destroy all Zionists and Crusaders. Allahu Akbar!"
      • by swissmonkey ( 535779 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @01:18AM (#3527977) Homepage
        I understand it's for fun but please...

        Avoid mixing "islamic world" with "Al-Quaeda" and avoid mixing Jihad with war/fight.

        Al-Quaeda is a minuscule minority of the islamic world and does not represent it.

        Jihad is an extremely broad term which sometimes means war, and most of the time doesn't.

        Almost all americans and many europeans have a problem understanding these two things, and through this ignorance make wrong judgements of the muslim world and muslims, it would be good if you could avoid strengthening that by mixing these things together.
    • According to Sun's FAQ: Schools and educational institutions can receive StarOffice 6.0 office suite for the cost of media and shipping. For more details visit Sun's StarOffice Education Web site. Perhaps the article should have said "including China".
  • pre-order here (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jonny Ringo ( 444580 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @08:40PM (#3526915)
    You can already pre-order it here [amazon.com]
  • by SteelX ( 32194 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @08:41PM (#3526920)
    Wow. Hot on the heels of Sun's press release, it looks like Microsoft is also planning their so called next-gen Office [com.com] which is also supposedly based on XML. That zdnet article is pretty interesting.. it has some comments from Gartner about both Office.NET (ugh! I'm getting .NET-phobia) and StarOffice.
    • XML-based. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @08:55PM (#3527007)
      XML is just a method of storing structured data as a rooted tree. Nothing more. Nothing less.

      It's become popular not becuase the technology itself is particularly revolutionary-- the technology is simple. It's become popular, rather, becuase of a number of very versatile, useful, well-done parser libraries that (for example) let you save and retrieve your structured data to and from XML without much fuss or work at all. As opposed to mucking about with file pointers and binary data and such yourself, and probably misusing a free() call somewhere and segfaulting. (There is also the associated neat ease-of-parsing technologies, like schema and XSL, but i won't get into that.) One such parser library was written by microsoft, and is part of ".NET". This is why microsoft is pushing XML right now; it's a development best practice. Or something of the sort. Not because they are moving toward XML as an "open standard".

      (The fact it has a sexy acronym, and the fact that nebulous connections exist in people's minds between anything XML (no matter how useless) and the very useful technologies like SOAP and XSL that have sprung from XML, doesn't hurt.)

      XML does not support interoperability in any way unless everyone agrees on common XML grammars for a specific task.

      Unless Microsoft releases the XML schema for their new-office XML format, then the new MSWord format will be every bit as much unusable gibberish as the old MSWord format (except the new gibberish will contain a lot of > and < symbols, and begin with a standard tag identifying it as an XML document). Microsoft seems every bit as xenophobic as they'd ever been, and have given no indication they will release such a schema for any reason unless they are forced to as part of a court judgement terminating the current antitrust case with the states. And probably not even then, unless the court order is carried out by armed national guard members storming the Redmond compound.
    • by aaandre ( 526056 )
      If you have seen XML documents created by MS applications you'd be be as scared as I am.
    • by flacco ( 324089 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @09:18PM (#3527141)
      Yeah, it'll be XML, but the content will be encrypted. Like this:

      <ms-word format="screw-you">

      l;wekras'epfu]9rj]-w34rmgq]4 5u]`mwmu -345u1vu3bm405m-uq[w4rkv=wr,v3,rvir=\aaoifj[0u5 [0uigjmlvn'sdlku[0qrt94tu0349'rgja'ergj' q49u]1349tjg'oalrjg'90ut][340tpojer'porgj093 4u51]04jg'aorjg'q394u51340tuj4nmg'eut[034
    • by Melantha_Bacchae ( 232402 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @12:45AM (#3527884)
      SteelX wrote:

      > Hot on the heels of Sun's press release, it looks like Microsoft is also
      > planning their so called next-gen Office

      Actually, that was Microsoft being caught with nothing to offer when a new competitor had a new version. They can't let a competitor be in the news without blabing about themselves, so they mumbled some things about their next Office version (due in another six months to a year at the earliest). Of course they are still trying to get people to upgrade to Office XP, when many are still running Office 97, and I've even heard of one person who was still on Office 95.

      > it has some comments from Gartner about both Office.NET (ugh! I'm
      > getting .NET-phobia)

      Here's a nice story that might make you feel better. Once upon a time, Microsoft spent much time and money researching a brilliant new idea. They brought it to market, and named it Bob. Poor Bob fell flat on his face and immediately died (I believe the cause was terminal stupidity, but I could be wrong). (Un)fortunately, the cute cudly assistants from Bobland were rescued and went to live in Office, where they lived happily ever after (until Microsoft recently made them disabled by default).

      History, thankfully, repeats itself (because Microsoft never seems to learn). In the late 90's, Microsoft spent much more time and money researching the Millenium Project (yep, Millenium also starred as the alien that Godzilla nuked in "Godzilla 2000 Millenium"). Millenium used Java (and a JVM named "Borg") instead of C#, but it was basically the same thing that Microsoft is bringing to market under the name of ".Net". Hailstorm was to be .Net's crown jewel (and the bane of privacy organizations everywhere). Hailstorm (supprise, supprise) has fallen flat on its face, and now Microsoft announces that it too will be joining Office. Also joining Office will be the subscription fees to pay for Hailstorm (and while you are at it, Microsoft hopes you will pay for Office over and over again too).

      Sooner or later, every product of Microsoft's that people hate will be bundled with either their OS or their office suite. With any luck, both Windows and Office will become so universally hated that people will switch to all the better alternatives that are out there (and more will come the more people want them).

      What happens when you embrace and extend Godzilla? Nuclear heartburn!
      See "Godzilla 2000" (released in Japan as "Godzilla 2000 Millenium") for details.
    • FUD Part 1:
      "Companies considering a switch to StarOffice or a competing product won't find the move cheap. Gartner estimates that the average cost per user would be about $1,200, which works out to about $800 for labor and $400 for productivity. In contrast, companies upgrading to Office every two years would spend about $550 per user, or $700 every four years. That means many businesses would take eight years to recover their initial investment.
      " (note: Was Gartner the company that made some pro MS statements in a report, and forgot to clean the MS-signed footnotes? Can't recall but i think it was them)

      FUD Part 2:
      "Whenever you put StarOffice on the desktop, you're taking a risk," Smith said. "You're moving to something that's not tried and supported...There's no guarantee that file compatibility won't be a problem."

      Are we happy now? :)
  • hmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nomadic ( 141991 ) <nomadicworld.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @08:41PM (#3526923) Homepage
    Wonder if they think charging for it will make people more likely to use it.

    Everyone does know that the only reason Sun bought StarOffice was to have something to annoy Microsoft with, right?
    • Re:hmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by Innominate Recreant ( 557409 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @08:56PM (#3527019)
      That was a consideration. Sun's decision to charge is based on research that showed enterprise users were not adopting StarOffice 5.2, the previous version of the product, in a significant way because they questioned Sun's commitment to a product it was giving away for free and which did not come with support and training.
    • Re:hmm (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Guppy06 ( 410832 )
      "Wonder if they think charging for it will make people more likely to use it."

      I wouldn't be surprised if it does. When it comes to buying applications, most purchasers believe in the addage "You get what you pay for." While StarOffice may not be above and beyond what OpenOffice can do, the price tag demonstrates to most buyers that it's a "real" program and also suggests that there is guaranteed support behind it as well.

      After all, look how well RedHat is doing compared to competitors. Or how much Mandrake is taking off as they establish a similar model.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The openoffice team has *barely* got some kind of beta mac os x support.

    Last i checked, the idea any flavor of staroffice would be supported on classic mac os was a joke.

    So, your choices are: Go with MSOffice, and have no support for UNIX; or go with staroffice, and have no support for Macintosh. Lovely choices here.

    I realize this isn't a problem, really, since you could just put openoffice on the unix/windows machines and msoffice on the macs, and use compatible file formats always, but that's still obnoxious, and i don't think that msoffice/mac can support openoffice's XML format at all, no? Is there a plugin that would let it?

    Dammit, when's this XML DocBook standard or whatever going ot be something that all the major word processors can save in?
  • One problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Disevidence ( 576586 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @08:43PM (#3526933) Homepage Journal
    The only real problem i can see is this is going to be hard to get to the average masses. I know quite a few people who think that they need MS Office, mainly because they have an ME or XP.

    If in they're advertising, say it works the same as MS Office, and supports all their documents etc etc, then they might see a little change. The problem is, MS has had such a monopoly, its hard to breakthrough to a non-technical users level.
    • Re:One problem (Score:2, Interesting)

      by (startx) ( 37027 )
      People don't "think" they need MS Office, it's what comes bundled with their machine along with windoze, so that's what they use and stick with it along the upgrade path. The last machine my parents bought (a 500Mhz el-cheapo e-machine) a few years ago came with star office 5.2. They now uses it exclusively and haven't had any problems. Guess what? now my dad wants to buy star office 6 because, yes, it's an upgrade to what he's got. The real solution is to get more OEM's to bundle something other that MS Office with their machines.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    $7,500,000 million for the StarFire 10000 with th 10 TB of RAM now required to run Star Office.
  • Why pay $75.95? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Devil's BSD ( 562630 )
    Since I primarily use any office suite for word processing, I just downloaded AbiWord. [abisource.com] Slashdot ran a story [slashdot.org]earlier, too, about this.
    If you use databases, I am sure you can find some open source version DB software somewhere. Same with spreadsheets and presentations. As for scheduling, let's just say, pen and back of hand work fine.
  • $75.95 != Free (Score:2, Insightful)

    by qurob ( 543434 )
    Sun's StarOffice 6.0, which will be released on May 21, will cost a measly $75.95. That's less than a quarter the cost of Microsoft Office.

    If it's not free, the only way it will be able to compete with Office is if it is 10 times as good.
    • Re:$75.95 != Free (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Random Feature ( 84958 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @09:02PM (#3527054) Homepage
      Wow. You guys are really all missing the point here.

      The reason that Gartner expects StarOffice 6.0 to take away 10% of M$ market share in the productivity suite arena is because it's a paid product offered by a reputable, known viable vendor.

      There are a whole lot of people looking to get out from under Microsoft's licensing/upgrading set to take effect this summer. Sun's offering may entice them to jump off the fence.

      While open source is ready for the enterprise, the enterprise is not necessarily reader for open source.

      What does that mean? It means that most enterprise class shops won't go for something that a) isn't supported by someone on the other end of phone and b) they aren't certain will be available in 5 years because of vendor viability.

      Sun doesn't really give a damn about all of us - they are targetting a larger market that will provide a longer-lived revenue stream.

      And take a bite of out Microsoft's chunky a$$ at the same time.

      I don't like OpenOffice. Font support sucks and some of the compatability with MS Office products is less than acceptable. Given that I absolutely have to be able to read/edit MS documents, that is an imperative.

      Will I pay for StarOffice? Hell yeah. I'd rather give it to Sun than MS any day.

      StarOffice came first - open office is the release of the code into the open source community. StarOffice isn't originally Sun's, but was offered as early as 1996. Sun picked it up (to the dismay of many, myself included ) in 1999.

      You can read about the acquisition here [com.com]

      OpenOffice did not come first, StarOffice did. Sun released an earlier code base to the open source community and continued with its own development.
      • Re:$75.95 != Free (Score:4, Informative)

        by dhogaza ( 64507 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @09:41PM (#3527260) Homepage
        No, the code base is the same. Sun released the code base but didn't fork their own development separate from Open Office.

        As others have said, Open Office is missing components (db, fonts, templates), though.
      • In order to compete with MS-Office in the Enterprise arena, sorry guys, they're going to have to offer an acceptable alternative to Outlook which can work with existing Exchange servers.

        A company like mine, for example, which has approx 500 employees, would probably jump at the chance to get something equivalent at a cheaper price, but only if it can replace the whole thing.
  • While StarOffice 6.0 is cheap, the same product is available for free in openoffice 1.0 which is the base. All Sun really did here is repeat what we have already seen in the netbeans -> forte4 java relationship. I say download the software(OpenOffice that is ;) ), install it, use it, and join a mailing list if necessary. I always thought real users could better recreate program errors than tech support.

    Besides OpenOffice has been perfect for me thus far.
  • by Trinition ( 114758 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @08:46PM (#3526962) Homepage
    I still say they're missing PIM functionality. Figure out a way to get Evolution to work with it seamlessly. I run Windows and would glady switch away from Office if I could read/write Word documents, Excel spreadsheets -- and duplicate my Outlook PIM/e-mail functionality (and still synchronize it to my PDA).
  • Why China? (Score:3, Informative)

    by driehuis ( 138692 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @08:47PM (#3526964)
    Hmmm... Free StarOffice for Chinese kids...

    One can only hope that the rollout will be done in a more responsible way that the Korean K12 Internet Access initiative. If you're the unlucky recipient of spam, chances are that a lot of it is sent to you courtesy of the Korean school system. All 16,000 schools got a preconfigured PC with some Windows toolkit on it that will connect anyone on the Internet to anyone else for any purpose. Kewl. Of course, none of the educators were educated into being good Internet citizens, and with English skills at a minimum the non-Korean speaking world now has a problem.

    The big question is, of course, why China? Why not make it freely available to any school kid under 18? That would be a huge marketing move.
    • Re:Why China? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ender81b ( 520454 ) <<moc.aksarbeni> <ta> <dllib>> on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @09:01PM (#3527045) Homepage Journal
      The big question is, of course, why China? Why not make it freely available to any school kid under 18? That would be a huge marketing move

      Or why not make it available for free to all US Schools? I imagine because having the entire K-12 system in china run on star office is considered more of a 'coup' than just having it available for free to various US groups (which it really is, in the form of Open Office). It is just great propaganda to use.

      Customer: So.. umm who uses this?

      SUN: Well nobody really. Except 12 million chinese schoolkids, who will eventually grow up and live in what is become the world's largest economy.

      Customer: Righto. Sign me up.

      You instantly gain a few million users and spite microsoft in one fell swoop. I imagine MS is now plotting to get back at Star Office someway - most likely by changing MSoffice formats to make them harder to read.
      • Re:Why China? (Score:3, Informative)

        by mgv ( 198488 )
        Except 12 million chinese schoolkids, who will eventually grow up and live in what is become the word's largest economy

        I think that 12 million is a bit of an underestimate. Try 100 million and you would be a bit closer to the mark. If it were only 12 million children, it wouldn't become the world's largest economy. Of course, India could still take that badge.

      • Re:Why China? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by WEFUNK ( 471506 )
        You know that somewhere over at Sun, they are brainstorming about their future and somebody's asking "what do we need to do to say we have the World's (or Asia's, or Who-ever's) most popular office suite?"

        They've gotta be trying to position themselves with a product they can call number one in certain market niches, preferably pretty large ones. Trying to create a de facto standard in China seems like a great way to do it. They might not make any money at first, but the beauty of software is that it doesn't really have any marginal cost until they develop upgrades or offer full support.

        If they successfully penetrate the Asian markets, they can leverage this sort of credibility in their marketing to paying customers around the world.

        Also, if it works but MS makes MSOffice formats harder to read, MS could end up stabbing themselves in the foot - Don't use MS, you can't talk to 3 Billion potential customers/suppliers/partners with it. Pretty good FUD if you ask me. Maybe US businesses would start using both MS (for the West) and Star/OpenOffice (for the East) together for Global compatibility until enough people do that that they can eventually drop the more expensive solution (MSOffice).

        Lots of maybes, but if StarOffice has a chance to break the MSOffice gridlock, this is exactly the kind of bold ambition they need to shot for and exactly the kind of motivation that is probably behind this strategy.

    • do you have to ask?
      I can think of 1billion + reasons, and ALOT of them are kids.

      fact 1: shovel your software on the youngsters, they chose it when they go into the real world. look at what colleges have done over the past 20 years with *nix.

      fact 2: there are alot of people in china.

      fact 3:if, say, 1/4 of the population is children(low estimate, I know), and they're being exposed to this software, well, that's 1,000,000,000/4= 250,000,000 kids growing up on something that will basically cost sun little more than opening up an FTP server for them...

      and we all know how asia in general has a knack for making copied CD's:)

      wildfire, my friend...that's what it'll be.
    • The big question is, of course, why China? Why not make it freely available to any school kid under 18? That would be a huge marketing move.

      According to the OpenOffice web site, one of the main differences between OpenOffice and StarOffice6 is fonts, in particular, Asian fonts. Perhaps the reasoning is that OpenOffice is not as usable by Asian students because of the lack of Asian fonts. Western students, however, can use OpenOffice, which is already free.
  • by bc90021 ( 43730 ) <bc90021&bc90021,net> on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @08:47PM (#3526967) Homepage
    Does anyone know if there will be discounts for multiple purchases? Ie, if a company has 1,000 users that they want to switch to Star Office 6.0, will Sun give them a discount, say to $50 per seat? (Granted $76 is cheap, but corporations are always looking to save that extra buck.)

    I see that there is a Star Office Now program (here [sun.com]), but that looks to be for vendors.

    If Sun makes it so that large companies can get an even further discount, it would seem to me that they'd get even *more* people switching, which could only be a Good Thing (tm). ;)
    • If you've never bought sun software at the enterprise level, you wouldn't know...

      Sun has a discount level associated with every product. The level is identified with a letter: A, D, and H for most hardware, B and P for most software, some other codes.

      They negotiate discount levels with just about anybody - the bigger the institution, the steeper the discount. For example, a certain institution that I know of (I don't know if this is technically NDA so I won't mention names) has a 38% category A discount (with which we buy Sun Fire 3800s and up), a 20% category H discount (for netras and the like), and a 38% category B discount (for software like staroffice). So when we buy Solaris media with documentation, instead of $100 we pay $62.

      Of course we have a site license for Solaris and StarOffice, so in reality we don't pay per seat. But when my boss got confused, we paid $62 for staroffice...

      This is a standard discount with which we buy online. I know that another institution had a category A of only about 30% and a category H of about 15%... each group negotiates separately.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, mayby MS will try to turn Windows into one large office suite to compete with this new threat. Soon we may learn that an office suite is really an integral part of an operating system. Separating the two will be "impossible" and "bad for the economy".
  • What does Star Office offer that OpenOffice doesn't? Is there a significant level of support that users of office suites typically need?

    As soon as I heard about Sun charging for Star Office, I switched over to OpenOffice. I haven't noticed any loss of functionality.

    What I have noticed is that on a modern(500Mhz+) machine, Open Office is fast, relatively bug-free, and can open and save MSOffice documents easily. I rather like it.

    I could see paying to support the project, but I don't see people paying $75 en masse for something they could get for free with OpenOffice.

    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Jahf ( 21968 )
      Star Office still has the Adabas database component and some extra file/print filters.

      These items were proprietary code that Sun could not open source because they were not part of the Star Office purchase.

      Open Office doesn't have these items, but most people won't need them. That along with commercial support are the only real differences. If you don't need a GUI database and you don't need commercial support, get Open Office.

      Sun is not counting on Star Office to be a cash cow ($76Million isn't chump change, but it won't change the world either). The cost associated with Star Office is to help pay for support infrastructure, which in turn makes companies who feel that only supported software is worth using (a logical concept for an Enterprise level company) feel comfortable buying Star Office.

      I've been using Open Office for months and, especially because of the last 2 releases, have gone ahead and removed Office 2000 and Star Office 5.2.

      • It you searched for 100 years, you would be hard pressed to find a crappier database than Software AG's Adabas.

  • Compatibility Issues (Score:4, Interesting)

    by saveth ( 416302 ) <cwwNO@SPAMdenterprises.org> on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @08:49PM (#3526973)
    Sun's web site mentions that StarOffice 6.0 will maintain "interoperability with other desktop suites," such as Microsoft Office. Sure, they can offer this, but will Microsoft counter it by obfuscating their document formats even more? Microsoft, may not intend to do this, but because Office has the ability to put so many things (Word Art, equations, movies, strangely placed words, etc.) into documents, the parsing process becomes a nightmare.

    Currently, bare Word .doc files, for example, are fairly simple to parse and import. But, when it comes to importing embedded objects like equations and Excel spreadsheets, the parsing process becomes far less trivial. I've used X-based programs, namely Abiword and StarOffice, to read from and write to Microsoft document formats, and it's not a pleasant experience. One of my more recent trials resulted in corrupted documents, in fact. Backups were made before attempting the export, of course, so this isn't meant to be a rant, but the fact remains that the number of features Microsoft Office has is proportional to the number of points at which a program that imports or exports their formats can break.

    Anyway, that's my experience with the matter. I won't be leaving Microsoft Office any time soon. Your mileage may vary.
  • According to this article [eweek.com], while OpenOffice shares the same code base as StarOffice, there are some features and functionality in the commercial product that aren't available in the free product - some fonts and some linguistic functionality is missing, as well as the manual and web-based training.

    Users should decide whether or not that package of features is worth 75 bucks.

    Of course, where OpenOffice is licensed under the GPL, those fonts and functions *could* be developed and distributed for free by another group. Hmm.. I smell another sourceforge project here.

    • by fmaxwell ( 249001 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @09:41PM (#3527257) Homepage Journal
      Of course, where OpenOffice is licensed under the GPL, those fonts and functions *could* be developed and distributed for free by another group. Hmm.. I smell another sourceforge project here.

      Sadly, you are probably right. Slashdot readers sit around bemoaning Microsoft's virtual ownership of the PC software market. But when some other company introduces a supported, professional, competing product, much of the discussion on Slashdot centers around:

      1. Encouraging people to download free software instead of buying the new product.
      2. Creating open source projects to replace the package being discussed.
      3. Getting the package without paying for it.

      Today was just another great example on Slashdot. First the announcement of Opera 6 for Linux. I lost count of the number of times that people suggested the use of Mozilla or some other free browser to avoid paying for Opera. At least one person posted registration codes. Others posted ways to disable the ads that pay the bills for the ad-supported version.

      Now we have the announcement that StarOffice 6 will be sold for a mere $75. Are Slashdot readers celebrating the fact that Sun is going up against Microsoft in the office arena? Nope. The discussion centers around using, and extending, OpenOffice instead of purchasing StarOffice from Sun.

      Microsoft management is probably thrilled by what they see here. A major competitor announces a compatible office suite that runs on Linux, Solaris, and Windows. It's priced at a fraction of the price of Microsoft Office. And what do readers on Slashdot, a group that should be a prime audience for the new package, do? Look for ways to avoid buying it.

      • For plenty of us, it's not just about the $0 price tag. It's about having software that we are free to share with friends and colleagues. It's about having the ability to put it into a standard system image that's installed over the network to every machine in the department without any licensing hassles. It's about having access to the source code and the right to modify and build it.

        If you don't care about those fundamental freedoms, then by all means buy StarOffice from Sun.

        • For plenty of us, it's not just about the $0 price tag.

          But for plenty it is, as demonstrated by the question regarding whether the enhancements were worth $75. He didn't ask about giving up freedoms for features, he asked about giving up $75.

          It's about having software that we are free to share with friends and colleagues. It's about having the ability to put it into a standard system image that's installed over the network to every machine in the department without any licensing hassles. It's about having access to the source code and the right to modify and build it.

          No, it's about making it financially viable for a company to release a product that competes with Microsoft. Skipping around and flinging CD-ROMs to friends, family, and colleagues does nothing to make that happen. And how much need is there to modify a browser or office suite? Get real.

          If you don't care about those fundamental freedoms, then by all means buy StarOffice from Sun.

          And if you don't care about Microsoft having any competition in office suite software, then by all means download OpenOffice in lieu of buying StarOffice.
          • And how much need is there to modify a browser or office suite? Get real.

            Well, I started working on adding the ability to rotate EPS figures to OpenOffice. You can't do it in MS Office (at least in Office 97, which is the last one I've used). You can't do it in StarOffice 5.2. It would have been very useful for me on several occasions; I ended up having to convert my figures to bitmaps to rotate them, and they didn't look very good. However, by the next build, someone else with the same itch had already contributed this feature, so I can't claim credit for it. Nevertheless, that's why I personally have wanted to modify an office suite.

            And if you don't care about Microsoft having any competition in office suite software, then by all means download OpenOffice in lieu of buying StarOffice.

            OpenOffice is guaranteed to be available in ten years. StarOffice will disappear as soon as Sun loses interest.

        • by jrp2 ( 458093 ) on Thursday May 16, 2002 @12:12AM (#3527791) Homepage
          . It's about having the ability to put it into a standard system image that's installed over the network to every machine in the department without any licensing hassles.

          You bring up a very valid point. Is it easy to build into an image that can be deployed cookie-cutter style without an administrative headache?

          My guess is they (Sun) are not going to be jerks about it, and probably not enforcing it with s/n's being entered, etc. Maintaining all the license paperwork for the BSA audits are also painful and expensive. That is what makes MS Office and Windows and many other apps so difficult, it is a royal pain to manage and deploy it all in an enterprise setting. If they take a laissez-fair attitude, take corp folks reasonable efforts to maintain legality as "good enough" and only go after companies that blatantly disregard the licensing, they will have achieved their goals and made a lot of friends. There are not likely to be too many companies in the blatant disregard category as they could just use OpenOffice if they want to be cheap.

          Bottom line, it appears Sun is not in this office game to make a killing, but primarily to stick their fork in Microsoft's side and break their lock on the market a bit and trying to break even while doing it. I just can't see them making a fuss over licensing like MS does. As far as sharing with your friends, share OpenOffice, do you really need the extras? Corps do, you and your friends probably don't. I think this is going to work just fine.

          Does anyone know what kind of licensing enforcement mechanisms are being put in SO? Are they "mass deployment friendly"?
      • I totally agree with you. I think the reason why we're seeing this behavior might be because most Slashdot readers are tech hobbyists who prefer their things cheap or free. This is not surprising. In Geoffrey Moore's book Crossing the Chasm, this group is what we call the "innovators" -- people who love technology, who're way ahead of everybody else but they want to get their things free or as cheap as possible. Hence the many posts saying "why not download Mozilla/OpenOffice.org/etc etc" instead.

        Sun's market for StarOffice 6, OTOH, is likely for IT managers and other corporate types, who prefer to pay for stuff just to get that warm fuzzy feeling that their investment is being protected. Plus, it's easier to convince upper management to migrate to alternative products, if they're stated as being "less expensive" as opposed to "free". Upper management always says, "how can good products be free?" So I think Sun's strategy of making StarOffice at a quarter price of MS Office, instead of being "free", as a really good move. Plus they offer OpenOffice.org for the hobbyists too. So I don't see why anyone should complain.
        • So I don't see why anyone should complain.

          Because this is the Internet. If you said the weather was "nice and sunny", someone would reply "I guess you think skin cancer is nice!"

          The argument would probably grow into something involving several other people. Eventually all but two of the participants would move on. The remaining two would end up making hollow legal threats like "I'll have my attorney subpeona your ISP to find out who you are and then I'll sue you for slander" or, alternatively, one of the participants could compare the other to Adolf Hitler, at which point both could feign disgust with the other and refuse to continue the argument.

          You really need to pay more attention to the world around you. ;-)
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @08:54PM (#3527006) Homepage Journal
    Considering prior to Aug. 1, [yahoo.com] business users will have to consider opting into a 2 year extor^H^H^H^H^Hsubscription plan with Microsoft for an additional ~$250 per copy. Looks better all the time.

    Note: I submitted something along the lines of this article and the cool bit about the NZ law firm switching to Linux, but do you think it wasn't rejected? Ha! Not everything Anti MS/Pro Linux makes it here.

  • Reality check... (Score:2, Informative)

    by xeniten ( 550128 )

    1. Microsoft, just a few days ago announced that they sold 60 million licences of Office Xp.


    2. That's more than double the amount of licences they sold for Office 2000.

    3. They also sold over 12 million licences in Asia Pacific region.

    http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2002/may0 2/05-13OXPMomentum2002PR.asp

    http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2002/May0 2/05-14officexpasia.asp

    That's just over 72 million licenced users of MS Office XP created in a year.And what's more Office.net is just about ready to roll out the door.Just so everyone knows full well what were all up against.

    • Yeah bit thats microsoft sales. I am sure many of those "sales" are actually sitting in unsold bussiness computers, that have office preinstalled, in wearhouses.
    • and pack up their marbles and go home.

      Nobody ever pretends competing with MS in an area where they're so dominant would be easy, but you have to give Sun some credit for fighting a good fight. It's a decent product, and they have a relatively intelligent marketing strategy (though they should give it away to all schools, not just in China).

      It will take time, even MS Office didn't become completely dominant overnight, it took many years. Our (admittedly small) company now uses mainly StarOffice because it makes business sense for us. What matters in the end is that there is a market with some reasonable competition, not that Sun completely stomps out everyone else.
  • We are the screenshots? Why don't companies that sell software put up screenshots?
  • by SteelX ( 32194 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @08:57PM (#3527024)
    Seems that there are a lot of "Why StarOffice, and not OpenOffice.org?" posts out there. To make things easier, here's where you can find the differences between StarOffice and OpenOffice.org [openoffice.org].
  • by pyrrho ( 167252 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @09:04PM (#3527064) Journal
    I think it odd but likely that charging for Star Office will facilitate it's spread. People do look gift horses in the mouth, but charge them 80$ and they go away thinking, "cheap! neat!"
    • "What we obtain too cheaply we esteem too lightly. It is dearness only that gives everything its value."
      -- Thomas Paine

      Year in and year out, the new cars that are rated the highest are the ones that cost the most money. Generally speaking, this is not because expensive cars are so much better than others, but primarily because those who pay are obliged, in their own minds, to evaluate what they received more highly, or call themseles fools for having made the bargain.

  • i'm just a bit curious with the Chinese donation.

    How does free software 'work' in a communist government on a large scale. Could a private enterprise (sun) give them stuff? Does it then get classified as 'enterprise' if it's free?

    Free software often conveys ideas of free speech. This is frowned upon by the chinese (remember what happened in 1989?).

    it's not that they couldn't use software such as this; it certainly is for a good cause. it is also certainly a welcome change to see private enterprise to begin to appear in china, just like this software, which brings up another humungous topic:

    In a hard-core communist country, would the government create all software, which is required to be proprietary to the country, and keep it inside the country? What would their opinions be on free software?

    and of course, after reading this post, I see why communism hasn't been successful yet.
  • by incunabulum ( 579696 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @09:09PM (#3527088) Homepage
    I think this is the real issue here... Would you pay for an office suite that doesn't include cute, animated assistants? I know I wouldn't! I will pay any price to have a bored kitten jump around on my screen. This may be the reason why Star is being distributed in China and not Windows Office. Those office assistants have an unchecked free-spirited character that is not acceptable in a communist society. The things that that paerclip will say!
  • by Copperhead ( 187748 ) <talbrech.speakeasy@net> on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @09:12PM (#3527109) Homepage
    The best part about purchasing the single-user license is that you can install it on up to 5 workstations. This eliminates the "What do you mean I can't install Office on two computers?"
  • In this NGO where I help out from time to time, there are a few computers and I have installed OpenOffice to see how it will compare to the current solutions. Well, the reason why it's not working for us is, we have a lot of documents written and some still being written in WordPerfect for Linux. In order to use OpenOffice, we have to export to .RTF. The problem is, some Finnish characters are lost in the process. Don't ask why, I have no idea.

    Anyway, you see the problem. So I am wondering if StarOffice 6.0 has the possibility of editing WordPerfect docs?

  • Microsoft effectively beat Netscape into unconsciousness by bundling their free browser into Windows, but even with monopoly power they would never bundle the office suite for free. Office is Microsoft's big money maker. This is going to severely piss them off!

    I like it.

  • Can any Mandrake Club members who've used StarOffice attest? How much better is it than OpenOffice? Particularly, are the MSOffice filters better?

    In any event, hoo rah to Sun for marketing this. Few would use OpenOffice because it's free. $75 is an excellent price - enough to make people consider it serious software but inexpensive enough to make the switch.
  • ...of Microsoft Office

    So is it one fourth as good?
  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @09:42PM (#3527271)
    Here I am, setting up an Adabas database as well as working on some StarBasic scripts to automate my eBay transactions and related e-mails, and it turns out that version 6 has no browser, e-mail client or true database application (the three things I need to make the scripts do what they're supposed to do). Heck, I'm having a hard time finding out if I need to look into translating the StarBasic into JavaScript for 6.0.

    I'm about ready to spend the $35 for the boxed product just to make sure I have access to the software when Sun stops supporting it. Then and only then can I even consider moving on to 6.0, and I will probably end up having the two installations sitting side-by-side.

    The features that died with StarOffice 5.2 were fairly useless for the personal user (their own browser and e-mail) as well as large enterprise networks (their own database structures), but damn it if they weren't useful for us middle-of-the-road types. Unless I grab one of the last copies of 5.2, I might as well invest in a copy of Office 2000 for Access 2000, Outlook and the VBA to use between them. That or learn how to script/program for real...
  • I haven't used Microsoft Word since version 2.0... but $75 seems a bit high. It's not unrealistic. The problem is that it's high enough to make you go "hmmmm..." In all too many cases, that "hmmm" will provide just the hesistation needed to stave off the purchase.

    How many businesses are going to pony up $75 for an office suite that is very unproven, compared to the entrenched competition? My boss would think twice. If, on the other hand, it ran $30-50, it would sound a lot more like a reasonable risk when employees may make the choice that MS Office helps with their job better.

    How many students will put out $75 when they mostly already have access to a recent MS Offfice? The site mentions providing licenses for the cost of media and shipping to schools, but the educational site doesn't say anything about a student edition of StarOffice.

    And the home user who recieves MS Office for "free" with their computer? Why pay $75 extra to do what you already can? Again, if it were a twenty-five bucks less, it sounds a lot more reasonable to test it out.

    If it were a touch cheaper they'd get a lot more people buying out of curiousity. At this point, Sun needs all the curiousity they can get.

  • I will use it as much as possible to see when/where it fails to meet my neads. I have Star Office 6 on my GNU/Linux machine via my mandrake support. That will be another nice comparison.

    If it meets only 90% of my needs then MS Office is dead in My Office!

    So far looking good opening my old Word docs. But I use Word mostly for creating documentation so actually I expect OO to do just fine. I'll be putting a note in my doc's that if anyone has problems reading them that I will provide a PDF .....

    ouch! I hear a Squeal! Is thata pig?
  • by Nomad128 ( 579708 ) on Wednesday May 15, 2002 @10:13PM (#3527391)
    I've read a couple post'ers comment on font issues in Linux. Here's how to solve the one I had, sacrificing a bit of startup time; I assume this will fix similar behavior in other Linux installs of OOo 1.0:

    Find user/psprint/pspfontcache from whatever directory your soffice binary is in

    either delete this file or rename it

    make a new, empty "pspfontcache" file and make it READ-ONLY ("touch pspfontcache && chmod 444 pspfontcache")

    The issue has something to do w/ font caching; I got this fix from OOo's IssueZilla.

    There, OOo is now that much more useful for Linux users. :-)

    For the record, I'd look into SO 6.0 if it had a *usable* database component (I hate to admit it, but, like M$ Access).

  • I bet thats only x86 linux. How about my linux-sparc64?

    If they truly supported linux, they would support linux on their on damn hardware AND software.
    If you cannot convince them, confuse them. - Harry S Truman (1884 - 1972)
  • I've been hoping to see Corel do some big stuff before long.

    I think that Sun really had the right idea by starting their projects opensource. That way they got people interested, they got free code from people, and they gave something back to all the people they helped out by allowing the open-office branch.

    Now the thing I don't understand is... If it started as open-source, how can they turn it back into closed source? Can the creator of any work do that?
    • The LGPL. Will please please read the licenses they advocate. The LesserGPL allows Sun to take openoffice, use it and add closed source code. All the stuff they take from OpenOffice must have it's sorce readily available - and it does. But closed code can exist in the same project as LGPL code.
  • OS X Version?? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bigfatlamer ( 149907 )
    So where's the OS X version? Or Classic Mac OS for that matter. I've got at least 10 machines that would run this instead of warezed versions of Orifice if it was available for Mac. If they can make it available for a 2 other Unices (leenooks and eyeriks), why not OS X, arguably the UNIX w/ the largest installed desktop user base?

    Seriously, I'd buy 2 or 3 licenses for this if I could run them on my machines.

The absent ones are always at fault.