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No-Cost StarOffice Licensing for Institutions 205

eugene ts wong writes: "A while ago Sun announced that it was giving unlimited donation of StarOffice to China's Ministry of Education. Well, it turns out that they announced that they are giving unlimited no-cost licenses for all education and research institutions." Many college students now get drastic discounts on Microsoft Office - but this covers a much broader range, from kindergarten up.
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No-Cost StarOffice Licensing for Institutions

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  • Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fogof ( 168191 )
    Why would anyone use StarOffice, M$Office? When openOffice is there?
    • Re:Why? (Score:2, Informative)

      by topher1kenobe ( 2041 )
      StarOffice is OpenOffice with a bunch of added loot. Not everyone needs it, but hey, if it's free, why not get the fonts and clipart etc.?
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

      A lot of people won't touch software that's "free" (as in no commercial backing).

      Mainly execs and people who are not technically "inclined". They think that if it doesn't have a company backing it it's not worth anything.

      People like this wouldn't dream of touching open office (let alone know that it exists) but knowing that Star Office costs money means it must be worth something.

      • Is this the same that people bitch about Microsoft doing with Explorer? This is a much more substantial product than Explorer.
        • No, it's not. If you don't understand why after a lengthy process including an appeal to a conservative US Circuit Court of Appeals, nothing I can say here will help you.
          • Well, possibly he doesn't understand because he simply hasn't been following that process so assiduously as some of us.

            In brief, the difference is that whether you decide to use StarOffice or MS Office, the process is exactly the same: get software, install software, use software.

            Internet Explorer, by contrast, is built into Windows, and can't (officially) be removed. This is a strong disincentive to use another browser: you have to download one, when you already have IE; and even while you're using your other browser, IE will still be using resources.

            So while StarOffice is competing purely on its merits, IE has a huge head-start over its competitors - which is only possible because it's made by the same people as make the OS. Hence, questionable legality.
    • Because:
      "In addition, Sun is also providing academic institutions with specially-priced support options."

      Well, that would explain why Sun is doing it at the least.

      I don't know... I don't have a great answer. I guess they're going to have to compare the apple and the orange and pick the taster fruit.
      • " have to compare the apple and the orange"

        But the thing is, they are both apples. One is a red apple and the other is green.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by moonbender ( 547943 ) <moonbender@ g m> on Thursday May 30, 2002 @02:26PM (#3610947)
      StarOffice has some features that were left out of OpenOffice because they rely on proprietary code.
      This is the part of the official FAQ [] pertaining to this:
      Q. What are the differences between StarOffice 6.0 software and the 1.0?

      A. StarOffice 6.0 softwre is a commercial product aimed at organizations and consumers while 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

      For more information on components and services available for the product, visit site.
      The main difference is probably the thesaurus and the database. OpenOffice has its own free spellchecker, don't know if it's as good or better than the proprietary one.
      • I've been using OpenOffice exclusively at home for about 4 months, and I'd be using it at work if I weren't stuck with this damned 2GB HDD and an Admin who's a VB programmer. OpenOffices spell checker has been great so far. In fact, I consider it to be much better, and more complete, than MS Office 2000's spell checker.

      • It's terrible. I used the SO6 beta for a while, and switched to OpenOffice 1.0 when it came out, and ye gods the checker is awful. It's better than it was in the older betas, but it's nowhere near the quality of the one in commercial SO releases.
        • Could you point me to something where the spellchecker does a significantly worse job than a commercial spellchecker?

          As far as I know,'s spellchecker is based on ispell, which was supposed to be comparable in quality to commercial versions.
    • Because many people believe the adage: "You get what you pay for.."

      Which unfortunately means a lot of people believe that if something is free, it must be worthless.
      • "you get what you pay for..."

        this is most certainly true. you're not going to find many books/courses on the free office packages. they're also not going to quite integrate in with the OS as well as one that's produced by the os vendor ;).

        same goes for your free OS. sure, there's lots of books on them, but the reading and comprehension level required is a little more than for an OS (M$) you pay for. also, a lot of people purchase a pc package, and it makes a LOT of sense to have the OS pre-installed. nobody likes to fumble with driver hell that can occur even in the fully polished M$ suite of OS's.

        there's always hidden costs associated with the luxary of going the easy way out as well. you get an office suite that you're now fairly locked into if you go the M$ route because the file formats are not open. you also get a package that is not certain to even be fixable. it's possible, though not probable, that M$ goes belly up and there isn't an OfficeXP+1 released. for years WP was THE word processing package and where is it now on the required skills list?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 30, 2002 @02:22PM (#3610901)
    Do /. users get free licenses then? Most of them belong in institutions...
  • by j-turkey ( 187775 ) on Thursday May 30, 2002 @02:23PM (#3610909) Homepage
    Many college students now get drastic discounts on Microsoft Office

    Microsoft offered the same deal that Sun did when I was a college student -- no wait, I stole it.

    • My school has some sort of agreement with MS, where we get Office XP, Win2k Pro, Office XP Pro, VS 6.0, and VS.Net (amongst other MS software) for free. It's great.
      • By free, the translation is "you pay for it in your tuition"
        • See my other post about the tuition thing. But I guess I'll cross-post the semantics. Basically, my school jacks up about $2K a year. There was no visible variation from this trend from the time before we had the licenses until after we started getting them. So, if it's in the tuition, it's miniscule. But I suppose that's irrelevant because it's MS.
          • Who knows what sort of deal Microsoft gave (gives) your school. It is also possible that the University simply absorbed the cost. Your school might have been able to add a wing to the library but purchase MS Office instead. Either way switching to StarOffice would probably save your school a tremendous amount of cash on a yearly basis. You can bet that the "powers that be" will at least look into a switch.

            • I doubt it. The school provides Office XP et al. because it's what the students want. Last time I tried StarOffice, it was horrendous, so I doubt I'll be planning any sort of migration soon. I leave politics out my software decision. And put bluntly, MS products tend to work for most people. Yeah, maybe they don't support feature X, but they tend to offer a lot more useful features then a lot of the OSS rivals. But it really doesn't matter. Closed minds think alike, and I'll get modded down anyway.
              • Yes, previous versions of StarOffice were less than perfect (as is the new version). However, the biggest problem is that StarOffice used to have very serious problems reading MS Office files. The new versions do a much better job of handling MS Office files, and in a school setting, where the administrators can easily mandate formats such compatibility isn't such a big deal anyhow.

                The point is that StarOffice is getting closer and closer to the "good enough" stage, and the price just can't be beat. Institutions are going to at least take a look at it. Especially institutions that already have Linux or Solaris based computer labs (and there are more of those than you might think).

      • No, you may get it for "free" but whats really going on is your school pays M$ 4.5 assloads of cash for a site liscense. My school does that, everything was all good for the first couple years. Then the beast started contesting the liscenses of products on staff/faculty personal computers even when used solely for University related work. It went downhill from there.
        • My school has this too. The University increased the student computer fee by 15 dollars a semester specifically to pay for the licensing. That's around 150 dollars for a 5 year degree (the average here). Now consider that most of those people have computers that came with a copy of office. Now consider that the academic cost of office is around 180, the deal starts to really suck. Now consider that Word alone is more than enough for the non-tech majors and should never need to be upgraded.

          When you take all of that into account, the deal really starts to suck.

          For the non-engineers/cs people, a copy of openoffice distributed by the University ITS department is plenty.
        • damn you for making me picture "4.5 assloads of cash"!! :)
      • Probably the Microsoft Campus Agreement.

        I don't remember the details, but we have it and it costs about $8 per student per term.
  • by pogle ( 71293 ) on Thursday May 30, 2002 @02:24PM (#3610924) Homepage
    This is great news!

    Here in Maryland, the state universities pay a massive license fee that covers every student attending, so they can pay for the cost of media only ($5, real expensive cdrs). But that money comes from your tuition anyways, so the savings are all only perceived...better off using StarOffice, and dropping that license, and saving some of that tuition money for better purposes (I want the old studen center made into a lasertag arena personally, but other improvements could apply too).
    • But that money comes from your tuition anyways, so the savings are all only perceived

      The savings aren't perceived...they're real for a student. The more Mom and Dad can pay for, the more money that's left over for chicks and beer! And the more to spend CDRs to store all of that other free software you get from the school's network...
    • But that money comes from your tuition anyways

      Nonsense. No state institution that I'm aware of runs off of tuition. They almost all run off of massive taxpayer subsidies (state, federal). Tuition barely makes the vig at those places.

      If you're in college and you feel oppressed by your university because they're holding back on what they "owe" you for your tuition, you're pretty sadly mistaken.
      • "Nonsense. No state institution that I'm aware of runs off of tuition. They almost all run off of massive taxpayer subsidies (state, federal). Tuition barely makes the vig at those places."

        Gee, where does that 10 grand a year go to then?

        "If you're in college and you feel oppressed by your university because they're holding back on what they "owe" you for your tuition, you're pretty sadly mistaken."

        I think you're sadly mistaken on the point of this post: I work for the technology department of the school, and was recently involved in try to decide if it was worth the continuing license costs when less than 15% of the students use the option for cheap M$ software. That money could be put to better use, simply because its not cost effective. And whether the money comes directly from tuition, or from the taxes I get stiffed on every year (in reality, both), it could still be put to more beneficial use than offering an option that a majority of the student body doesn't know about or care to take advantage of.

        When we can use M$ in the computer labs for the one+ paper(s) we need to type in a year, why buy it? And the other half of us got Office as part of a computer package from Dell or some company, and don't care if Office XP has newer stuff than their Office2k.

        So regardless, my original point stands.
        • The U of Mn has 50k students, and a 1.2 billion dollar budget. $10k * 50k is *less than half* the budget and it doesn't include a lot of research-grant funding that most of the technology departments use for purchasing high-tech equipment and seriously supplementing researchers salaries. And I'm pretty sure the 1.2 billion doesn't include any bonding dollars used for capital improvement.

          Of course spending money better is always smarter, regardless of where the money comes from. I won't argue that.
  • Go Sun GO! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by G00F ( 241765 ) on Thursday May 30, 2002 @02:25PM (#3610935) Homepage
    Its nice seeing Sun take the ball and run, even though some of their thigns arn't making sense. (like the new cost of Solaris) I do like how Sun creates cross platform/os/network things. I just hope they keep them open once all the MS monopolies are broken and they have the lead.

    This is a really good stratigy to moving(breaking MS "other" monopoly) into business. Open source/free program that can do most things Staroffice can, staroffice being a more polished product with more features being charged a low amount, but giving free to all places that where people would be inclined to bring it into a place where it could make money.

    I haven't used the new star office yet, but I do know that the old one had major flaws with office files.(saving) Also, it has some anoying features I have to fight with, and can't find the options to. But other than that, its a very nice product.
    • Re:Go Sun GO! (Score:2, Interesting)

      Walt Mossengburg of the Wall Street Journal(I don't know if I spelled his last name right) said that StarOffice is not consumer friendly and that Sun doesn't know how to talk to consumers because they mostly do Enterprise stuff. But I think he missed some points, like If I just wanted to write a report I could use StarOffice instead of paying for MS Office which is really expensive and have things I don't need. My point is StarOffice is an alternative if you want to do simple tasks as word processing and such without all the other business features which is geared to executives.
  • by questionlp ( 58365 ) on Thursday May 30, 2002 @02:26PM (#3610940) Homepage
    I think this is great news, primarily for those schools in the NW who were targetted with audits by Microsoft as they are moving towards Linux. Not only do they have a more stable/secure environment to work in but also a very nice office suite... for gratis.

    So far, I'm quite impressed with 1.0 on my Windows machine, though some of the files that I need to open won't since it doesn't work with Macros or data pulls from a SQL Server or an Access file.
    • Yah, we started having internal audits and I basically said "screw it" and started using OpenOffice 1.0.

      Now, granted, MS .doc files don't get decoded correctly 100% of the time, but if they bought me the proper tools I wouldn't have to get stuff that is for free [grin].

      Now if we can just get of out the Windows rut...
      • I've ran into some problems with decoding Word 2000 files myself, but I was able to extract the data that I needed, made the changes and saved it into XHTML (I was converting and updating some of the procedures to a web-friendly format).

        Getting rid of the dependencies on Windows is always a tough one, mostly since many (most?) educational software is released for Windows (and Mac). I wonder if some of the software would run under Wine or the Crossover plugin... (I don't follow the Windows emulation stuff very often since I primarily run Unix, be it BSD, Solaris or Linux, on servers that don't really run desktop apps.)
    • Yes, but Microsoft is pushing a license that charges a fee for every machine that could run MS software - instead of charging for any that actually do run MS software. Under that scheme, StarOffice might not make any difference in the licensing costs until the institution is willing to swear off MS site licensing entirely.
      • It may not be a financial advantage in the sense of avoiding the Microsoft tax, but think of the cost of keeping Windows and Office up-to-date on those machines (applying patches, service packs) as well as dealing with anti-virus software in case somebody opened up an infected Excel XP spreadsheet or a Word document with infected macros.

        It's an option for those who are sick of Windows/Office and want some alternative and a bit of relief about not worrying if opening a message in Outlook or a nasty bug ridden web page destroying the machine, if not others machines or the servers (a la Nimda).
  • packaging (Score:2, Informative)

    by EricBoyd ( 532608 )
    I know that at Queens University, the students don't buy individual packages of software anyway, at least not the engineers. We buy a $200 package of everything we'll need for our 4 years there - MS Office, good telnet client, Maple, matlab, etc. etc. So I don't know that this will make that much difference - it's not like the engineers have a choice...

    Websurfing done right! StumbleUpon []
  • will I be able to download or buy (for nominal fee) a copy of Star Office on my own or do I have to ask my school, faculty etc to get it for me? I think this is a great news
    • As I understand it (and I may be wrong) the agreement only relates to the institution's computers. You would need to pay the full price ($79.95 US) for your own computer. That probably doesn't matter because it is unlikely you'll need any features not in the free Open Office [].
      • ... so, in other words, Microsoft gives an actual student discount (go right ahead and ask them - they will give you a discount), but Sun only gives it to institutions? What crap is that?!
        • I don't know how much the dicounted Microsoft Office costs now, but IIRC in the UK 4 years ago it cost 149 pounds ~= $200 USD. Now, that would position _undiscounted_ Star Office at 1/3 of the cost of the _discounted_ MS Office. So not "Ngh..."

          (If someone knows the real cost of the Student edition of MS Office, I'd be happy to hear it.)
  • hmmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jeffy124 ( 453342 )
    Many college students now get drastic discounts on Microsoft Office

    Not quite. Typically the school purchases licenses from MS and then discounts them to students or, in the case of my school, just plain gives them a license (or 2 in the case of Office XP). Guess where the money to but those licenses comes from? Yup - tuition.
    • Tuition at my school didn't change (save for the $2K it goes up every year) between the time we didn't offer the free licenses and the time we did. It may still be hidden in the tuition somewhere, but it's pretty miniscule if so.
    • You're lucky, my school actually made a profit on selling me software. Their student OEM version almost always costed more than the OEM full version I could hunt down on Price Watch []
  • Why pay for the cow when you get the milk for free?
  • Education Distro? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by scaramush ( 472955 ) on Thursday May 30, 2002 @02:34PM (#3611004) Homepage Journal
    Okay, given this, and the recent spate of MS educational license nut cracking [], it seems like there's a real need for a special linux distro designed for educational centers.

    Having run a college lab, I know the major barrier to adoption was ease of use -- you don't want your lab CAs having to spend hours explaining a shell to drama majors (or professors, for that matter). But what about a very simple desktop (similar to Apple's old easyfinder (I can't remember what it was called) specially prepared for educational students?

    I mean, throw together a dist that's user friendly, that has Star Office, some pre-canned ghost like functions (for labs) and a grading app for teachers, and I think educational instiutions big and small would be falling all over themselves to adopt it.

    • That sounds like a brilliant idea. I'm sure its been done to some extent, but I'm sure a pre-packaged distro with the neccessary visible user base would really help *nix fight *doze in the schools.
    • Try []. There is a shite load of projects to bring Linux into the schools there.
      • "Try []. There is a shite load of projects to bring Linux into the schools there. "

        Sorry, but [], the web site itself, is not simple by any stretch of the imagination.
        If your average English teacher looked at this, she would be scared out of her wits.

  • by afflatus_com ( 121694 ) on Thursday May 30, 2002 @02:34PM (#3611005) Homepage
    Firstly, this is excellent news.

    However, one thing that Sun must still address is how to increase their adoption in the corporate sector.

    The reason why colleges are requested to stock Microsoft Office is that is what the businesses use to whom they are applying for jobs.

    My last university, McMaster University [] used to stock nothing but Corel office (cheaper, helped to support a local business), but in about 1997, they bowed to student pressure to replace it with MS Office since the commerce/science/arts/etc students wanted to have the "strong proficiency with advanced Word/Excel/PowerPoint/Access" on their resumes to compete for their jobmarkets.
    • Sun must still address is how to increase their adoption in the corporate sector

      Remember Apple? They gave away free Mac's to schools. After the students graduated, a good portion of them found that since they were already used to using Mac's, it was easier for them to buy a Mac than it was to get a PC.

      Sun is thinking the same way.

      They're going to give it away to schools, the same schools where the future admins/managers/workers are coming from. If the admin/manager/worker has already worked with StarOffice and is comfortable with it, they will be more apt to push for that solution rather than paying $x+xxx for the M$ solution.

      It's almost like drugs.. at first, you give it away for free. Eventually, they'll get hooked on it and come pay you for more! ;)

      I think, therefore I think I am.
      • After the students graduated, a good portion of them found that since they were already used to using Mac's, it was easier for them to buy a Mac than it was to get a PC.
        That may have worked at first, but by and large once you get off into the real world you discover that while Apple was aiming at the kids, Microsoft was aiming at the adults, and when the kids became adults, they had to change because the adults weren't going to. This is why Apple is a bit player these days and were it not for the aesthetics of their new machines and the $150 million cash infusion Microsoft gave them they wouldn't be around anymore.
        • i gotta mostly agree with you on this, but i'm not so sure that 150M$ goes very far with keeping a software/hardware company afloat such as apple. hell a dot bomb with 60 employees (and actual revenue) couldn't sustain for 18 months on that cash (been there done that).

          even before going out to play w/ the adults we realized that apple wasn't going to be the thing to do. the colleges might have had some apple labs for use, but business, comp sci, and accounting students were using the ibm pc's for everthing. i don't know what happened to the marketing droids, but that's gotta explain why they're always have a floor of their own.
    • ...but this may be a place to start undermining that sad home truth. I wish more software companies (like Corel, hint, hint?) would do this.

      As a WordPerfect freak (no flames, please, I'm a wordsmith and it's a crafter's tool) who works for a Corel VAR (among other things), I still sit in front of MS-Office all day. Why? Even though my current project is an ideal FrameMaker (or your designated alternate here) job, the guy on the other end wants Word files.

      Similarly, when I don't have a job, it's convenient to be able to send resumes from home in Word for the clueless recruiters who can't (or won't) open anything else, since I don't imagine we're ever going to see complete M$/everything else document interoperability anytime before the Tuesday after Doomsday.
    • ...the commerce/science/arts/etc students wanted to have the "strong proficiency with advanced Word/Excel/PowerPoint/Access" on their resumes...
      Wow, that is a really sad comment on the state of computing in North America. The ability to use a gui based software package is considered a "skill." Thank goodness we can steal people from other parts of the world where they can learn that programming the damn machines can be fun.
    • I hire about 10 people a year and "strong proficiency with advanced Word/Excel/PowerPoint/Access" is one thing that drives me up the wall. We are an ISV, so the ability to use a standard computer GUI program should be a self evident requirement. Especially when this usually means that the applicants are able to type a letter in Word, open an Excel spreadsheet and can fill out a query form in Access. A couple of other favorite skills on the resumes that I get:

      -Internet Explorer
      -HTML (7 tags)
      -Windows (sometimes broken out into 95/.../XP)
      -Email (ye gods!!!)

      I am waiting for the one that lists "able to dial a phone number" as a skill.
      But this is not only North America, but pretty much every country. And it also bites another way, I actually stopped listing my computer skills in my resume, because recruiters seem to put me into an "overqualified" box all the time.
    • ... one thing that Sun must still address is how to increase their adoption in the corporate sector.

      Sun says that's why they're charging for Star Office in the first place (rather than just open-sourcing it). They want to achieve penetration in businesses that are used to paying through the nose for tools such as Microsoft Office and think free software means amateur crudware.
  • by southpolesammy ( 150094 ) on Thursday May 30, 2002 @02:35PM (#3611011) Journal
    As the website states, "$85/campus for support". That's truly amazing, and especially so when you realize that they're going to get a ton of calls about some of the translation from M$ formatted docs to SO formatted docs. I'm sure that it doesn't seem so bad when you're looking at supporting small colleges, but what about the Ohio State's, Michigan State's with around 50,000 students per campus? Also, what about state systems like UC and SUNY? What constitutes a cam pus? Is SUNY-Albany covered if SUNY-Buffalo gets support?

    The only caveat here is getting campuses to support two office suites, since you know that the overwhelming majority aren't going to just pick up and move over to SO and leave M$Office behind in one fell swoop. Initially, those who decide to adopt SO will have to transition users into using SO instead of M$Office, and that means more support costs for the campus IT personnel.

    Of course, get a few students who want instant resume material (read: participated in a major campus-wide application migration project), and it might not be an issue.
  • by Futurepower(R) ( 558542 ) <> on Thursday May 30, 2002 @02:37PM (#3611024) Homepage

    If you haven't tried Star Office or Open Office, try Open Office []. It's free. It's excellent. Of the free word processors, it seems to be the best.

    I've had a lot of problems with Microsoft Word being quirky. Sometimes Microsoft Word will move a footer to the top of the following page, for example. I don't have a huge amount of experience with Open Office, version 1.0 was released on May 1, I think, but it doesn't seem quirky.
  • That is one of the best news I've heard from Corporate America in a while.

    Feel free to rip off businesses; they've got the money anyway.

    But the schools should get free software, or at least heavily discounted, software.

    After all, Let's think about the children!.
  • Cheap MS products (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If you want cheap ms products(OS's, OFFICE, Visual Studio, ect...) Go to your local university, find a college bar and offer some broke student 50 bucks to log into the website and order the software for you. You can pick up visual studio, office xp, and windows xp for 30 dollars a piece. Add in the 50 bucks you gave the kid and you have the whole set for 140 dollars.

    If you don't think many students would be interested, I think you have forgotten how broke students are and how much cheap beer 50 bucks will buy.
  • Instead of RedStar Office, as I suggested previously, how about AllStar Office?
  • by cecil36 ( 104730 ) on Thursday May 30, 2002 @02:43PM (#3611066) Homepage
    Now that any educational system can get StarOffice for free, we don't have to worry about our kids vandalizing computers when they see Clippy appear on the desktop.
  • Shrewd Marketing? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by wbav ( 223901 )
    As a student I'm all for this; I like star office (well right now I have open office) better than the M$ stuff.

    But sun isn't doing this out the kindness of their hearts. The idea is if student use their product from k-college then when they get into business they will buy full versions for companies. Apple tried something similar, but it never quite took hold. Also, becuase StarOffice is able to save as M$ formats, but M$ cannot read StarOffice format (atleast last I checked), well it seems to say that M$ does not have to worry about Sun, yet, but Sun has to worry about M$.

    If sun is successful; we'll be seeing businesses switch to StarOffice, just as soon as the kids grow up. Does this mean that Sun thinks StarOffice will still be around in 20 years? Sure seems like it.
    • The reason that Apple computers never took hold in the business community was that they were always a lot more expensive than PCs. StarOffice, on the other hand, has the advantage of being considerably less expensive than MS Office.

    • Quark Express is the standard in layout and design software. It's also a horrible piece of crap, but we won't get into that.

      A single-user license for Quark 5 costs (IIRC) $900. However, universities can buy an 8 license package for $800, with the ability to add licenses later for $99 each. Thus, everyone learns Quark in school, and it stays entrenched in businesses because it's easy to find people who know it (trust me, I really didn't want to buy Quark again, but I just did, because I basically have to). Plus, that's what most printing places accept, because it's the most popular...and so that's what they teach in schools so that their students can graduate and get jobs. Begin again.

    • But sun isn't doing this out the kindness of their hearts
      Kindness has nothing to do with it.
      If I send you a document and you can't read it and you can't reply to it, I have a "failure to communicate" problem with my office software. The situation also applies to "big bad corporation" in its relations with customers and suppliers. My willingness and ability to spend x$ on office software does not translate to your willingness or ability to spend x$ on the exact same software, nor should it. Star Office and Open Office are not the same product. Even if all binaries and files are identical, they are different products. I can't call up Sun and complain about Open Office and expect to accomplish anything.
  • by Bowie J. Poag ( 16898 ) on Thursday May 30, 2002 @02:47PM (#3611105) Homepage

    ..StarOffice WAS free... but now its no longer free, so now it's free instead.

    I'm telling you, Sun's "Insanity First!" initiative is REAL! When you people start believing me? I was right about Katz being a mad-libs Perl script, wasnt I? :)

    • by happyclam ( 564118 ) on Thursday May 30, 2002 @03:00PM (#3611196)
      ..StarOffice WAS free... but now its no longer free, so now it's free instead.

      I'm telling you, Sun's "Insanity First!" initiative is REAL!

      Actually, it's terrific. Here's why: The major barrier to adoption of free software in institutions is fear: fear of using something unsupported, fear of having to maintain it themselves, fear that it won't work, fear that it's got back doors in it... we've all heard that "no one ever got fired for buying IBM."

      So Sun has this great product that they can't give away for free because it comes from free software roots. So what do they do? Start charging for it. This legitimizes the product in the minds of the PHBs, small as those minds are. Then they say they'll give it away for free if you qualify in some way. So the PHBs all scurry around to see whether they qualify, and when they figure out they do, they jump at this terrific discount from a well-known, strong company.

      Having served time in the marketing end of software, I know that "Insanity First" is often the only way actually to succeed.

  • by Beyond Redemption ( 582429 ) on Thursday May 30, 2002 @02:50PM (#3611132)
    would really work if they *gasp* made a version compatible with the system that HALF of all public schools use. It shouldn't be that hard to port the linux version over to OS X. Microsoft is just laughing at Sun for forgetting about HALF of the computers in schools.
  • Can any of the further development that goes into StarOffice be put into OpenOffice?
  • I'm surprised they're not trying to spin things like this the way most other software donations work. "We just donated one hundred billion dollars *coughOfSoftwarecough* to all the little kiddies."

    Or maybe it's just because "We just donated infinity dollars..." would make it sound like the silliness it actually is.
  • When I was a full time student I regularly checked on what discounts were available to me on various software packages. In general I found them to be not enough to be relevant. They didn't make them affordable to the average student, just less than you would pay through any other legitimate source.

    Now that I've discovered GIMP and OpenOffice, though, it's largely irrelevant. They do everything I would use the various Adobe or MS packages for, and the price is right.

    This is still good news, though. I would love to see StarOffice take over in schools. That would make things much easier for me as an OpenOffice user.

  • Well then, my Son (5) and Daughter (8) will be getting their copies ASAP. -wink-

  • This is funny, since my mom-in-law was just in town last weekend and we talked at length about StarOffice. She is the director of a large educational outreach program in a large midwestern US state, designed to get poorer school disricts online with current technologies.

    I love my mother-in-law, she is awesome. She has an advanced degree and an uncanny ability to understand where things are going and why they are important in the grand scheme of things. The devil is in the details though... she can't understand StarOffice very well at all, from a UI point of view.

    All of her project schools are going to get StarOffice, and all of her staff is undergoing training. The problem is that they have been using MSOffice for so long, they dcan't be "untrained" easily at all. She says the third graders pick up StarOffice - piece of cake... but for the people in charge... teachers, administrators, etc, StarOffice is counter-intuitive.

    So the question begs... even if it is free, and can do everything they need, will it work?

    Just my thoughts on the matter.
    • Well, I work for a company that does MS office training (e-learning). While I'm not in the department, I can can edit your remarks a little:

      The devil is in the details though... she can't understand Office XP very well at all, from a UI point of view.

      All of her project schools are going to get Office XP, and all of her staff is undergoing training. The problem is that they have been using Office 95 for so long, they dcan't be "untrained" easily at all. She says the third graders pick up Office XP - piece of cake... but for the people in charge... teachers, administrators, etc, Office XP is counter-intuitive.

      You wouldn't imagine this to be true, but the devil is in the details.
  • Microsoft offers a similar deal to K-12 students and faculty (for use OUTSIDE of the school, according to EULA. Microsoft doesn't typically release those prices to the public)

    K-12 Students and faculty can get Office XP Full for $149 (a 70% discount). []

    Of course, Sun offers no indication of offering the products to students for use at home (for school related work, of course!)

    One can only wonder HOW microsoft can legally enforce their EULA on the K-12 Office, as it only permits it to be used by students (not parents) for work relating to school.

  • This LOOKS like this applies not only to traditional universities, but the for-profit Devrys of the world. Interesting, compared to the standard "non-commercial" stuff.
  • Once the students get familiar with StarOffice, or any other free Office application, they can enter the workplace and use StarOffice rather than MS Office. As long as the documents are portable between the two, then there's no reason why people won't switch over to StarOffice.
  • Does this mean... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gillbates ( 106458 ) on Thursday May 30, 2002 @03:57PM (#3611736) Homepage Journal
    That Sun will be accused of anticompetitive behavior because they are giving away Star Office the same way Microsoft gave away Internet Explorer?

    But on a lighter note, this can only be good, folks. Hopefully, over the course of time, this will devalue the Microsoft Office suite to the point where Microsoft will either have to give it away for free, or will no longer able to charge such exorbitant licensing fees (a $79 version of Office wouldn't be bad...) Consumers, regardless of which office suite they choose, will benefit.

  • As stated here [] I think Sun should consider adding something along these lines:

    An additional benefit of the agreement allows each Purdue faculty and staff member and each Purdue student to install and use the selected Microsoft products on one computer that he or she owns, for University-related work.

    For additional effect. Ah, well, it's a step in the right direction. I should also add, that SO has been on all of our [] lab [] computers for several years. Now we just need to get rid of / replace the rest of that junk :)
  • I think that it would be great if colleges sold CDs with Star Office to make it easier for students who don't want to download the software. The students can pay for the disk and the time that it took to copy the cd. Is $5 asking too much?
  • I hope that proffessors would encourage students to use Star Office by allowing them to hand in essays in Star Office format. Perhaps, the students can hand in the essays on disk or as an email attachment?
  • isn't this ONE of the reasons M$ got into trouble in the first place?

    as long as sombody is charging for a comprable product, you can't give it away. it's NOT FAIR!

    as much as i hate M$ i hate people who look to the government to "save" them. the more government does FOR you... the more government can DO to you.

    if the government decides to go after Sun for it's anti competitive practices... i'm gonna laugh.

  • ..." 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."

    That is from here [].

    How is a person doing a network install costing their company $800 per machine? What kind of hourly rate is that?

One can't proceed from the informal to the formal by formal means.