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Sun Microsystems

Sun May Buy StarDivision 152

ChrisRijk writes "The Register is reporting that according to the German mag c't, next month Sun will buy StarDivision, whose major product is StarOffice. With Sun's financial and development resources behind it, StarOffice could rapidly become a worthy competitor to MS Office, especially in multiple-platform environments. The idea of having a major office productivity suite that looks and feels the same no matter which OS is beneath it is simply too good to be denied. But this is just a rumor report (albeit a well-sourced one), so don't get too excited yet.
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Sun May Buy StarDivision

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  • by styopa ( 58097 ) <(hillsr) (at) (> on Monday July 26, 1999 @12:30PM (#1783034) Homepage
    Well, I think one of two major things is going to happen here if it is true.

    1) Sun will not release a new version of SO for quite some time while they fix the bugs and make it faster. Then release a kick butt product, a Solaris of the Office software world.

    2) It will die a horrible flaming death like HotJava and the JavaStation.

    One of my feeling due to this news is that Sun is trying to become completely self contained, or as close as they can. The close alliance with Netscape provides a browser, and the acquisition of SO would provide an office product. This way they don't have to worry about buying licenses from Corel for WordPerfect. Hardware, OS, programing apps, productivity apps, and internet connectivity all in one bundle.

    Due to the fact that I don't see any alliance with Corel coming anytime soon I think that Sun is going to put some effert into this product. One of the reasons HotJava died, other than being a crappy product, was that Sun had to support Netscape in the browser market, and couldn't do that if they were devolping and releasing their own product.
    As someone else pointed out, they want something very big that is programed in Pure Java that they can showcase. Also, someone else mentioned that they thought that SO was already programed in Java, but I have heard several people mention that it is buggy and slow. If Sun does want to show off Java, and wants to use SO to do this they aren't going to be satisfied until it isn't buggy and slow. Also, in order for them to infiltrate a market dominated by Corel and MS they are going to NEED to make this product free. Especially due to the fact that Corel gives WordPerfect 8 out to Linux users for free right now.

    If this is true we may have a very interesting Sun Star Office out there in a year or two. Or it may dissapear all together.
  • If this is true, and Sun standardizes on StarOffice internally, it will just sink Applix completely. Sun is their biggest customer.
  • I'm sorry but I just don't agree with the whole RTFM and 'things should stay difficult' calling that some people constantly shout out and hold in front of peoples' noses with pride.

    Software is for the user...the end user shouldn't have to worry about installing. It's for the geeks to guide the hands of users so that their life is about getting what they need (or want) to do done. I happen to like to code, and to read manuals and all that...but the average user doesn't and shouldn't be bothered by details. It's up to them if they want to learn something new. But they shouldn't be forced to. And then I've heard the response - well then they shouldn't be using Linux. Well the cry was for world domination, and that will never ever come about by creating a world full of computer geeks because believe it or not...some people just don't care about computers.

    I wasn't too sure on this view until a few weeks ago my boss found me endlessly searching through a manual to do something that he knew how to do. He said, "Why didn't you just come ask? It would have been a lot quicker and you could have been getting a lot more done."

    And that's when it clicked. I could keep reading the manual, but sometimes it makes more sense to get help from others without doing everything possible before you crawl in defeat to the gurus.

    Anyway, all I'm trying to say is that I believe that your view though understandable (hey I used to think like you) is totally unrealistic and counterproductive: for real world situation...and the world domination of Linux.

    Embrace the user...for he is our ammo in the fight against proprietary injustice!

  • Well, solaris is free(for none-commercial use), so it's unlikly they will charge for StarOffice.

    (HOPE, HOPE)
  • You use CSS. See [] for more!
  • OpenWrite, the Lighthouse NeXT word processor, is one of my favorite apps. I have been toying with the idea of converting all of my documents into OpenWrite format and using the NeXT (or NEXTSTEP in a VMWare machine). I'm still not sure, but it would be great.

    It would also be great to see the programmers from Lighhouse come up with a new word processor for today's users.

    Yay, NeXT.

  • Since the IslandGraphics suite were originally SunWrite, etc etc etc - developed in-house and later passed on to Island to run with and market - I'm not sure what you're getting at by mentioning them here?

  • I got nearly the same experience running StarOffice (slowly) on a libc5 based system.Last weekend, I got the new RedHat 6.0 and all my problems were gone. I imagine a memory leak in SO 5.0 - they fixed it in 5.1 !
  • I use the german version, so I don't have english menus. But I think that Star will fix bugs as easy as the menu thing very fast if you report them to Star. Actually I had a problem with StarOffice 5.0 and my hardware and I reported the bug to the support team. In StarOffice 5.1 the bug was fixed.
    I guess the support team already has a solution for your printing problem too. Why not asking them? The support in the newsgroups is pretty good - like StarOffice!
  • The idea of having a major office productivity suite that looks and feels the same no matter which OS is beneath it is simply too good to be denied.

    Something like this already exists... when it was released on the Mac, there was a huge outcry from Mac users about how "alien" it felt - it didn't behave like a Mac App.

    It's name was Microsoft Office.

    Now, I hate MS products, but in all fairness, if MS were to release "MSOffice for Linux" tomorrow, would you say the same thing? Why not?

    "Look & Feel" is a two-edged sword, keeping the look & feel of a product across OS's is a dangerous thing, especially when there is already an established "look & feel" for each OS.
  • You make good points. However, the main sales increase that I would expect would be in the busines area.

    you mention that people use an app because, among other reasons, it's what they are given at work. Now, imagine a company that, like most of my customers, uses Macs, Unix, and Windows. Now look at StarOffice being the same interface, writing the same file formats, etc. on all those platforms. "Nice," says the IT Manager. Now add the fact that StarOffice can import and export MS formats, and viola! An IT Manager's dream: an office suite that's reasonably priced, multi-platform, and MS-interoperable.

    And, if you want to migrate a Win user to, say, Linux... you don't have to have them re-learn the office suite. Users like that!

    Me, I'd bet on great sales increases on the corporate end...

    Then again, I could be completely wrong... these things happen :P

    Posted by the Proteus

  • There are actually a couple of good reasons why Sun may want to purchase a non-Java office suite. The first reason, which is especially true of StarOffice, is that they want the Word importer. StarOffice, for all of its flaws, has what is probably the best Word importer I have ever seen, save Word itself. In today's M$ world, this is an essential key to success of a new suite.

    Secondly, there already is a Java version of StarOffice. However, from what I understand, it isn't really the same as the native versions: it requires a "server" version to host the "client" programs. I'm not quite sure what the reasoning is behind this arangement, but it quite possibly could be rectified by Sun, providing a native Java office suite on already semi-proven ground.

    Finally, there is one last reason for Sun to buy StarDivision over a Java office suite: there is no good office suite for Java. Corel had a go at it with Java 1.0.2 quite awhile ago (which took approximately as much time to boot as it takes SETI@home to process a transmision), but otherwise, I don't think anyone has made any desent office suite for Java. Sun would be forced to purchase a non-Java office suite and port it. (Which, BTW, would not be "throwing away" the non-Java code, but merely translating it from C++ to Java, a procedure at which many who work with Java extensively are becomming quite skilled performing in short order.)

    With these qualifications, it's possible, if not probable, that Sun would purchase StarDivision. I just hope that this won't spell the demise of the only true, free alternative to Office.
  • I noticed some correct spelling in your post.

    Sloppy, very sloppy! BAD AC! No Cookie!

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wouldn't Applix make a better fit as a Unix product. I've used SO, but it's just too huge, and it's no longer modular. They've integrated everything into a single frame which effectively functions like a wm on top of your wm. It's functional at x-platform capable, but there's just way too much overhead. OTOH, I guess this will help Sun sell higher-end hardware.
  • I don't think MS has the ability to support Office in Linux. An OS without DLL's, what ever shall we do?! (I know that Macs don't have DLL's either but I'm trying to be funny so laugh).

    Anyway, MS wouldn't be able to sell, or frankly give away, their Office product to Linux users. I don't think MS is being all that stupid. They understand that we aren't going to corrupt our systems with MS Office, they know how to do market research.

    Frankly it would be smarter of Corel to attack the pre-install market right now. Kind of piggy back on top of the Linux pre-install. Several major suppliers of computers, like Dell, sell their products with Linux pre-installed now. If Corel could get their foot in the door by trying to get WordPerfect as a option to install with Linux maybe, I'm dreaming in this next part, the consumer will ask for it to be an option for Windows installations also just by seeing it as a option for Linux.

    Anyway, enough dreaming.
  • Did you ever tried search & replace? There you can replace even font sizes and other attributes. BTW its easier to use paragraph styles when you build up such a page.
  • You can choose different L&F in StarOffice. It crashes extremely rarely on my system (Linux and OS/2) but I never lost any document.

  • However I am not going to get my hopes up!
  • Yepp, it might be fast. But it looks like it is on a feature and usability diet though.
    I can use loads of different databases to get my data from. And put them in a *real* spreadsheet.
    And StarOffice's import filters (i.e. for MS Office 97) are just great.
    And you can remote control the whole StarOffice with the integrated StarBasic.
    So you never tried StarOffice?
    What a shame. Go get it! It's free!

    reality_bites - so do i
  • by Trith ( 10719 )
    Think they'll keep it free for non-commercial use?

    Romans 10:9-10 []
  • StarOffice is not just a mindless copy of M$ Office! When I switched from M$O 97 to StarOffice 5.0 it was very good that the user interface in some points was similar. It helped me to learn how to use StarOffice. When you have worked with StarOffice for some time you learn that it is much easier to handle than M$O. It has many useful features, M$O has not (even not in M$O 2000).
    And the best thing with StarOffice is: it is for free. At least in this point M$ can't compete.
  • I like this a lot. More and more small products that individually could not hope to overcome the Microsoft giant are being absorbed by larger companies. These companies stand a chance of doing so, and I love it. The one thing we have to worry about, but not for a while, is that Sun and such companies don't become like Microsoft. We'll see...
  • I own StarOffice 5.1 and have already imported documents created with both M$O 2000 and 97. I couldn't see any difference - both types were imported just fine. Should M$ have kept their promise not to change the document format between 97 and 2000?
  • Guess the Staroffice for free campaign swamped them away. I made very good experience with Suns customer service. If its true that Sun buys Stardivision the customer service will reach Sun standard very soon.

  • ... is that if Sun bought out StarOffice, we would probably be subject to silly license restrictions and marketing crap (see Java) :(

    I guess we can hope it doesn't happen that way.
  • I'm really kind of happy with my Corel WP Suite, it has the same L&F on both my linux boxes and my win98 machine.... so, does that not count, or what?
  • Where can I download the source code for StarOffice?
  • (1) Sun hates Microsoft. (2) Scott McNealy is a ranting raving hothead.

    Those are two things I hold to be constants in my life.

    Beyond that, not much else is certain.

    But, relying upon (1), I would conclude that the best way to get at microsoft is a damned good, free, office-compatible office suite. How delicious that would be!

  • If Sun buys SO and AOL wants non-MS software, does that mean AOL could somehow take advantage of Sun's new office suite? If it gets rewritten in pure Java, could AOL use this to integrate a non-MS office suite into AOL. I'm not sure if this would make sense, but it might help AOL move average users away from Microsoft dependence and toward AOL / Netscape / Sun dependence.
  • Nice to see you both here, Timur and Julien...

    It's possible they'd kill it off, but it's more likely they'd backburner it and try and rewrite it in 100% Pure Java and/or use the JNI. I'd expect a speed reduction if they did the former, and I honestly can't remember if IBM implemented JNI on OS/2 or not...and if they did, whether or not they did a good JOB of doing it...and of course, finally, whether or not Sun would maintain a JNI port to OS/2 -- the answer, sadly, is probably no. :(

    Cheers, Joan

  • by banky ( 9941 ) <gregg.neurobashing@com> on Monday July 26, 1999 @11:52AM (#1783071) Homepage Journal
    I have been toying with it and so far, my impressions are very mixed. It manages to convert the most complex Word and Excel documents with nary a sputter. For someone trying to migrate away from MS, this is a Very Good Thing. OTOH, its S L O W on every machine I test it on. VERY SLOW. These are PII's with lots of RAM and both 2.0.36 and 2.2.10 kernels, good video. Its got enough features to make me happy. OTOH, I can't resolve printing issues (it seems to be trying to use lpstat for something) to my network printers. It installs quicker and easier than MS Office, once you get the quirks of the installer worked out (permissions strangeness in my case). It uses Java - hence Sun's interest, but I am not sure that I am completely thrilled with that. Internet integration is tight - not too sure about that, either. Call me crazy but I like Netscape, I don't want my office suite surfing.

    At any rate, I see a great product, if StarDivision will take an effort to fix some of the strangeness and really make it a top-notch competitor to Office. I hope Sun will buy them and work to make a great product.
  • I used to hate PC clones and revere Genuine IBM(tm) systems. To me, a company that makes a copy of something and sell it is just, well, less than human, an entity without a soul.

    I feel that way about StarOffice. I respect their competence and wonder about the effort they put into making every aspect of their software look and feel like Office. But I feel they don't have a soul, their software is but a mindless copy of the market leader.

    Now, it doesn't have much to do with the user interface. I don't mind KDE because there are a lot of nice improvements, a lot of cool touches that make the interface theirs. But StarOffice is a mindless copy of Microsoft Office. It's like letting the Borg into your Linux Box.

    There's just something about it that gives me the creeps.

    So I run GoBe Productive on the BeOS, which I love because it isn't a copy of anything. Now if I could just use it to read Office(tm) documents, I'd be happy.

    Incidentally, I still don't think much of clones. Not a popular sentiment around here, but ... well, imitations aren't my cup of tea. Maybe that's why I still prefer Irix to Linux? More likely, it's those godawful fonts. If Microsoft Office for Linux put half-decent fonts into the OS without the current incomprehensible hassle, I might even get it.

    Except for one problem: Microsoft's fonts aren't so hot either.

    Forget it.


  • The idea of having a major office productivity suite that looks and feels the same no matter which OS is beneath it is simply too good to be denied.

    Why again, is that a good thing?

    I would rather someone standardize file formats. That way I can use some doze tool at work and still go home and run a free tool to work with that format. I certainly don't need Sun telling me how my computer at work should look and feel, *and* how my computers at home should look and feel. (And if you try to tell me *any* of the office suites out there look and feel good [Office, WP, SO, etc] I will laugh).

  • It's sightly slower than word in win32 environment as well. I don't understand if they (corel, staroffice) has mimiced Word for so long,why don't they do it all the way? All I want to do is open a rather big html page, change every 14 point size font to size 8, other bigger title to 12 point; then change to 2 columes for lesser print output. I tried corel, staroffice, eventualy had to pay 25 bucks for Office97 for that script capability--and I feel sooo shitty about it, for I tried so hard to avoid it.

    After using the corel scripting tool, I simply wish all corel suits die a horrible dead, that's all I got to say.

  • ... especially compared to the other offerings. Hopefully, if Sun does buy it, they won't kill the OS/2 version.
    Timur Tabi
    Remove "nospam_" from email address
  • I used it daily during the year to create papers and outlines for my classes. I run a PII-300 with 256 MB or RAM so my opinion may be gilded, but I thought it ran pretty well.

    It opens in under 5 seconds and since I upgraded to 5.1 I don't think it's crashed.

    I have a few beefs. First the input filters for MS Word just aren't that good, although the output filters seem to work well. My biggest complaint is that you can't open multiple windows. SO uses one big desktop with multiple windows inside. It wants to run maximized and I hate that in a program because it seems selfish.
    I prefer it to Wordperfect because wordperfect is not better on the filters, and doesn't feel as snappy. Although it does allow multiple windows.
    I find the type really hard to read at any size.

    I think there is promise in Abiword which feels like a nice little word processor, although it's not up to speed yet.
  • Most of the mass in the Unix version of star office is some honking-huge windows porting library sitting on top of motif. You could get rid of all that stuff if you rewrote it in Java, and you could do it in Swing - hence no evil GUI porting problems.

    The problem we-all-know-who-they-are had writing a Java office suite was primarily the AWT, which, like the system SO is based on, has a honking huge amount of wrapper code to make the GUI portable. Now Swing exists, it might be worth a second look.

    I have seen office-suite-size applications written in Java using Swing, and they look a lot more acceptable than -office did.
  • The truth is that Slashdot is run by a couple of guys who don't care what you think if you don't think like they do. Not that there's anything wrong with that per se, but anyone who thinks that the Slashdot editors are true representatives of the geek community is naive. Unfortunately, that includes the mainstream computer press.
    Timur Tabi
    Remove "nospam_" from email address
  • Conversely;

    I'm using it on a daily basis on a rather, base system. K6/2-380, 128M, 4.3G IDE disk, 128M swap, Matrox MilleniumII. And StarOffice is rather speedy on my system. I use it to manage rather large CSV (comma seperated value) worksheets for DNS and routing, ranging in size from a few hundred kilobytes to over 7 megabytes. MS Office can't handle that. It chokes every time on a Celeron 400A with 128M running NT4 on a 6.4G IDE disk. BUT the Windows version, on the same system, has similar problems to Office. It just can't handle those big files, and it's incredibly slow.

    I don't mind the browser functionality; I just don't use it. Does make it easier to hop around my many directories tho. But, hey, to each his own. As for me; I'm sticking by StarOffice, so long as Sun doesn't screw it up like they do most everything else.

    -RISCy Business | Rabid System Administrator and BOFH
  • Finally light dawns of Haiku as tech critique the world has much need
  • actually we bought iplanet not too long ago...
  • HTML tags
    lazy fingers lose knowlege
    you must provide breaks
  • A lot of you are missing the point here. Sun needs Staroffice.

    Here's why: The PC card for Sun servers never worked well, and Sun wants to sell their Ultra5 and 10 workstations into the Windows NT developer workstation market. In order to compete here, they need to read/write MSOffice doc formats.

    Software emulation of Windows really sucks. Sorry, but soft-PC isn't a good solution.

    Bundling a PC-on-card sucks, too because
    1) Windows sucks
    2) Who wants to flip back and forth between unix and a windows box
    3) user still needs to buy Windows and MS Office
    4) hardware compatibility issues

    so, the only obvious solution is for them to bundle an Office suite with their servers (sure would be nice to get StarOffice with Solaris...)

    Staroffice isn't perfect. IMNSHO, it tries too hard to be Windows95, and it was obviously ported from win32 with a porting kit, but it's high on usability and ability to convert document formats to standard html

    It's grown on me, and I now find that a staroffice desktop can keep me from having to vnc to a windows machine.

    I'd say it's a good move for Sun, and Microsoft should be scared of the spectre of SUN OFFICE!

    slashdotters should be worried about future cross-platform support of Staroffice, licensing terms, and a staroffice re-written in Java.
  • I think that kind of move makes sense. Unfortunately, even though their system software is quite good, Sun doesn't seem to be very good at end-user applications. Even their development environments were only so-so. But, of course, a purchase like this could change that.
  • First of all, Stardivision always seemed to be on the verge of dissapearing from the face of the earth. They must get extreme hell from Microsoft if they're charging $200 for their Win32 offerings when Microsoft bundles Office 2000 into everything. When Office 97 came out, Staroffice 3 barely booted without crashing and if it did, it most certainly crashed 10 seconds later and they charged $200 for this. In 1998, after what must have been the bank loan of the century, they got Staroffice 5 out and it was finally something equivalent to Office98.

    Finally last month Stardivision started spamming email addresses. The shit hit the fan at that point. For Stardivision to resort to spam must mean they're on their last quarter. If Sun doesn't buy them, Linux is going to be without an office suite. None of the other Motif/GTK projects are even close to being an office suite.
  • I hated that too, but I think I have found a solution. If you open some vertical bar on the left, it has an icon list. I don't remember how I did it and I don't have a copy with me now to see. Anyway, if you open that, you can drag the icons out to the desktop and then launch each app individually as it should be.

    Romans 10:9-10 []
  • by Anonymous Coward
    And how, praytell, are DLLs different from .so's?
  • One thing that UNIX office suites all seem to have in common is that they include additional fonts and often fontserver due to the crummy lowest common denominator of fonts on UNIX boxes.

    This is really sad, and yes, X has some limitations. I'd love to see anti-aliasing be part of xfs, and I'm happy to see standard font servers starting to support ttf, but it's got a ways to go. (ever try printing Chinese or Japanese web pages in unix?)

    But... I must defend Micros~1 when it comes to Fonts. They have done an excellent job of bringing high quality, well designed fonts to browsers everywhere - even under unix ;)
  • 0/

    It's in german, so I couldn't read it. But my incredible "pronounce it like it's english" universal translater seems to have worked for at least the title.
  • ...Micro$oft has not bought StarDivision. I've even wondered at times whether Micro$oft already has some controling interest since they haven't put up a fight against StarOffice.

    In a couple of years when M$ is forced to give Windows away for free due to competition from Linux, their primary revenue stream will be from MS Office and other applications.

    I'm surprised they haven't bought StarDivision to try to dominate the cross-platform Office Suite market.
  • The thing is, if people come over to Linux/UNIX from Windows, they don't want things to be entirely different. I use Blackbox, but only after a long progression of window managers -- from windows like to entirely different. If I dropped my Windows using family onto my desktop now, they'd be at a loss. I'd start them out with KDE, which has something like the Start Menu, Control Panel, etc. There needs to be something for hackers and non-hackers alike.
  • I've seen Sun buy up successful companies before, with the intent of supporting them. Then, after a while, slowly, and if possible, quietly, using the personnel for other uses. They did this with a big OpenStep developer (I can't remember their name right now). They did this with Island.

    Let's hope that they don't screw this one up, too. However, I suggest you don't hold your breath. Blue looks odd on humans.

  • There are some interesting things you can do with SO. With a java version, it is possible to modularize everything and only download the part that you need. Who the hell needs a spreadsheet program loaded locally when I can just pull down the word processor (without all the excess stuff they usually come with these days as well.) Users should transparently download the portion of the program they're working with when needed and save space for data.

    I want Sun to get rid of Applix so bad it hurts sometimes. What a complete waste of my time.


    P.S. It would be nice to get rid of SO's nasty habit of occupying my entire screen. I got two 21' monitors so that I could have lots of apps open at the same time, not so one app can make one screen look like an off-colored Win98 box!

  • Yes, it's a very good bet that Sun would kill the OS/2 version of Staroffice if they bought Stardivision.

    Then again, I work with Sun people daily and I'm pretty sure they would kill the Linux version of Staroffice too if they acquired them.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, I disagree. I think it would be great if SUN had a 100% Pure Java office suite. This would make development work easier, since the developers would not need to concern themselves with the nasty porting issues that C/C++ developers need to. I do development work in Java and in my opinion, Java 2 is mature enough to be used as the basis for very large applications (like office suites). I don't see any reason why a well written Java office suite should run intolerably slow on a Pentium II class system. I suspect that Microsoft may be one of the culprits in spreading FUD about Java being too slow/ not good enough for large scale development work. It is definitely not in Microsoft's interest to see Java succeed. If all the big software developers (other than Microsoft, anyway) switched to Java and released 100% Java implementations of their products, nobody would have any reason to use Windows! If users can run their software on any operation system, why not run it on a good/free OS like UNIX/Solaris/Linux. In a couple of years, computers are going to be so fast that nobody is going be complaining about programs running too slow on Java.
  • What I need, really, is not a word processor; we have a few documents that won't convert well, but we are gaining some momentum on this issue and in 3 months, it'll be a non-issue. Any remaining Windows machines will use WordPerfect Office 2k or whatever the hell its called. The thing that is *really* lacking is a spreadsheet that will happily and quickly convert Excel. Applix choked bad on some of our complex spreadsheets. Gnumeric won't even come close. I haven't tried the KDE offering, mostly since there is already some investment in RH/GNOME - it works, its happy and stable, I don't want to mess with it after taking the time to get it running. At any rate, what I need is a spreadsheet, and I am dying for Quattro to get ported, whenever the hell that will be. If it can get the same 75% or better results that Wordperfect is getting doing conversion, that will be enough for us to ditch MS altogether.

    And no, I won't be running WINE.
  • The goal would be to work to disrupt the MicroSoft cash flow by creating a consortium of Lotus, Novell, Corel, StarOffice, Adobe, Oracle, and others to make a standardized, testable, and brandable file format that would allow new add on products and to cut of the monopoly profits from Office.

    That kind of exclusionary collusion is illegal, because it amounts to forming a software cartel. And Microsoft would implement an import filter for the new format as quickly as it became public.
  • by dublin ( 31215 ) on Monday July 26, 1999 @02:37PM (#1783116) Homepage
    Even though I'm a Sun bigot (and came by it honestly), this could well be the death knell for StarOffice, and if StarOffice falls, Linux chances become much slimmer.

    Doesn't anyone remember that Sun already bought a world-class OO office suite about two years ago, and then proceeded to completely bury it? (They bought Lighthouse Design, which had some very nice office apps for NeXT.) In principle, it should not have been that difficult to port the Objective C code to Java, producing the first real Java office suite, but for whatever reasons, the opportunity was bobbled and all Sun has to show for the LD purchase is an OO modeling tool.

    Lighthouse Design's excellent code is now but a footnote in history, and there's little reason to hope the same fate won't befall StarOffice if they can't find a way to remain independent.

    I like Sun, but I do NOT trust them to follow through on this, or devote anywhere near the level of resources required to make StarOffice a real competitor. Never forget that Sun has lots of really bright people, but they are a poor software development house - their business model insists that business units be instantly profitable, leading to bone-headed business decisions in an attempt to generate unreasonable amounts of cash. Java is an abberation. Look at the fate of Sun's other software products (SunNet Manager, the NFS client, etc.) to see how software really fares at Sun. The company starved those products, and the same is likely to happen to StarOffice, which will require even more money to support.

    On annother note, StarOffice is not written in Java, but there is a Java version (port) of it, which can be run from JavStations or other network computers. (Sun is finally realizing that a local disk is a really good thing, even if only for cache - networks will never be fast/good enough to make no local storage a good architectural choice, especially with the increasing importance of mobility.)

    If I were at Microsoft, I would throw a party if Sun completes this purchase...

    I sure wish they would chase that common file format initiative mentioned in another post, though - that's the way to really make a difference!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yes: all those kind of suites, specialy its word procesors are delaying doc management for too many years. Those tools are too complex to the average user. Users need technology to get their work done, not to learn lots of stuff about font types, kinds about paragraphs and all these weird typographic things.

    The technology is here. We have powerful backends as TeX/LaTeX to create high quality printing. We have key doc standars as SGML/XML too. We have the OS (Linux, for example). The next generation doc tools must be a user interface based on XML hiding the gore details.

    These new tools must help the user to create, manage, organize and find information. The present software are lots of big bad programs creating lots of files without order and confusing its own creator.

    Even html editors have been bad influenced by this paradigm.

    Believe me: forget suites and look for management doc systems. All of us, personal and corporative users, neet it.

  • MS Office for the most part, is very fine product.
    Actually, it is probably the best things MS ever created ( IIS is another one)
  • With all due to respect, I have found StarOffice to be a much better integrated product!

    Web, Mail, Word proc, PowerPoint like stuff, Schedule, Browser, Plugins, ...., Java,....

    I think StarOffice is the most comparable Office Suite to MS Office on a Linux box! IMHO of course

    Now if only they could add some Gnome integration, WOW!

  • In a computer world dominated largely by a company that thrives on peoples ignorance, you serve as a prime example why Linux still has many years to go before it is a major player on desktops.

    You, like most people, want an install tha requires little or no user input and even less knowledge to perform. M$ has the InstallShield, which does basically everything, Linux has nothing quite like that yet. Though that being said, installing RPMS or using configure,make,make install is not that difficult. If you would have taken the time to RTFM (like most people don't) you would have seen that you can install it with the /net option (usually as root) to do the main install. Run the setup program as a user and you get, ready for this, a WORKSTATION OPTION. 1.3MB of files in a user's home dir, and they're off and running. Sounds pretty multi-user to me. BTW, if you would have atleast done (1) ls command you would have noticed a PDF file, guess which app is required to view it (other than xPDF)... hope you know. Download it and install it. Might have to read a man page or two from that one too.

    My point is this: M$ has taken the liberty to make things easy... so easy that a person that uses computers might actually not learn a thing. Linux isn't that simple yet and I hope it never gets that way. If people understood it better, they'd take the time to better EDUCATE themselves, which is why M$ will stay the dominate force for a while yet.

    Remember (2) things. RTFM, and research your own problems first. Try to sound a little informed and like you've made an effort to solve your own problem... that's where the Linux community will embrace any questions you may have.

    Bottom line: Ignorance is everything that the Linux community is not, and that will not be comprimized

  • The only fear I have is that SUN would try to re-write the app with 100% Pure Java. This has been tried by very talented development houses, and it did not work well, hell the versions I have tried of the 'Java Office Suite' (manufacture to remain nameless) ran like my PII 400 was a 386 with a meg of ram. Java is great to make light switches talk to light blubs but for an office suite? Keep it in C SUN!!!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The quote is "You know the party's good when you can't even tell which end of a blow job you're on."
  • The Register is known for being good at spreading rumors that may or may not come to pass. Does anyone have a link to the article in c't (even if it is in German)? Or maybe someone has read it (if it not available on their site)?

    Vegetarians against spam!
  • Is that not one of the versions they offer? That is why Sun wants it. That way they can show off the wonders of Java. I just hope they can speed that snail up! ... and fix the zillion or so bugs too ...
  • "SUN OFFICE" that doesn't even sound right ...

    I don't think MS will be very concerned with "SUN OFFICE"

  • Those tools are too complex to the average user. Users need technology to get their work done, not to learn lots of stuff about font types, kinds about paragraphs and all these weird typographic things.

    What's the first thing people want to do with information? "Make it pretty"--because, after all, no one will pay any attention to any paper document that doesn't use fonts/spacing/horizontal lines/headings/bullet lists effectively. So people spend time dinking around with looks rather than content. (This criticism can actually be applied to StarOffice's GUI, most TV shows, and most Web pages as well.)

    A document management system would be a good thing, but for it to be powerful at all, it'd have to be Complicated. I think well-chosen filenames, well-designed directory trees (broad, not deep) and some intelligence on the part of users would alleviate the personal user's need for a doc management system.

    Also, WYSI(A)WYG is easy for people to understand. TeX isn't. Your average semi-intelligent college student gets confused by writing HTML with pico/vi/Notepad--and they'll be able to use TeX? Hoo boy.

    As for StarOffice, I hope they'll ditch its browser functionality and clean up its standard user interface. It does not need a "Start Menu." An office suite should be an office suite, not a GUI shell... or a browser... what'll their new slogan be, "StarOffice: emacs for the '00's!"?

    As for the Word/Excel/Powerpoint import functions, I hate the way that "curly quotes," en- and em- dashes, and a few other things get swallowed. Maybe I've just got my system configured wrong, but none of those characters ever appear in StarOffice, Netscape, or anything.

  • I wouldn't read it like that; if the companies involved merely proposed a standard that was open and that they stuck to, then there would be no cartel; the fact that MS would implement an import filter is irrelevant - the point is that there would be a standard through which other office apps stood half a chance.

    A pitty this idea never took shape.

  • The point is that any standard would be much easier to work with than ms-office's secret formats. Why? Standards are documented, which would mean that microsoft could indeed use it. Why exactly would this be exclusionary?
  • "That kind of exclusionary collusion is illegal, because it amounts to forming a software cartel. And Microsoft would implement an import filter for the new format as quickly as it became public."

    you miss the point! MS could use it too; it would need to have import/export filters to avoid bad press, it would not sell upgrades to read its "improved" files, the Sun would shine...


  • Depends on how you define "Office Apps". I certainly have had a lot of success using LyX [] or just writing LaTeX in Emacs for word processing.
  • Isn't staroffice written in their starbasic or what ever their custom language is?

    I was under that impression, it makes a lot of sense if you're making something as complicated as StarOffice and you're planning on supporting a bunch of platforms.

  • How about SolarOffice if you think SunOffice doesn't sound right?

    SUN == SOLARIS == STAR(Office)

    Well lets see, the SUN is a star.
    Star. Sun. Whats the difference?

  • Granted, the only look I took at SO5 was a hacked english version back when only the german version was out -- i found a partial english ver on one of the german technical university servers (mighta been clausthal) and fixed its missing parts with the german package. My impression on the k6-200 i was using then was, kinda slow, crashy, and way too MS-like.

    I very much prefer Corel's much-superior (stability and speedwise IMHE) wordperfect suite, which already exists for Solaris (anyone else want Corel to release a free-for-personal-use ver for Sun? Would top off a 3GS nicely ;). I worry that the reason Sun would want StarDivision is that SO5 had (in theory) a Java version .... yuck ... wouldn't want to try that.

    Corel also has a pretty darn good record of supporting Free stuff, for a commercial-software company.

    For that matter, I intend to get LyX and Gnumeric and AbiWord on my two SPARCs and live a happy life. I've had it with commercial word processing. Bleah. @#$% MS-Word files. Fight the man with your word processor!
  • over the past couple of months this german ct magazine has reported a bunch of things. Of it all, and looking at the consensus of the /. threads it has spawned, I believe that this ct magazine has a tendency to exagerate to the extent of fallacy. Yes, the mac os x cgi article had some merit, but it was not the beast they made it out to be. The same sort of thing happens in all their articles that make their way to this site. I think we need to take anything they say with a grain of salt, if not mocking laughter
  • Sun really need a good office suite to further compete with M$. Although you hear half as much about Sun as you do M$, Sun has almost as many employees and makes their fair share of cash. But like SGI they are looking to further compete with M$ and maybe even the desktop/NT workstation market.
    Sun and SGI rule the 3D workstation and heavy super duper server market, places where Intel and M$ can't compete with near the same quality. But M$ and Intel own the desktop and low cost workstation market. Why? Because Intel has the fast yet not terribly expensive chips and M$ has the support of hundred of not thousands of companies helping them out with more applications every year. So what do these 3D and server powerhouses do? Dive into the low cost market. SGI is trying with it's NT Workstation line (and is supporting Linux along with it, woohoo!) Which means that copy of Office 2000 you just bought will work on your new SGI boxes, major plus. Sun can't abandon their UltraSPARC and microSPARC chips like SGI did with MIPS. So they buy out an already existing multiplatform office suit (Star Office), keep all the multi-platform ports, but redo the Java port which just happens to run very well on the *SPARC processors. Then get into the low-cost workstation market which is making everyone else so much money. Not only does having an office suite make Sun's boxes look more attractive, but they can read and write MS Office documents, which means with Sun's boxes you're able to remain in competition with your competition.
    1. Don't abandon your *SPARC chips.
    2. Don't change your logo to a real crappy one.
    3. Don't make Star Office unfree for personal users.
    4. Don't force my box to run Star Office in Java, I like Java (especially when I dont have to do memory management mineself), but my box doesn't do a good job of running it quickly.
    5. my toaster doesn't need to be on the internet, don't try to put Jini in it or I'll put a bottle where the Sun don't shine.
  • > I'm really kind of happy with my Corel WP Suite, it has the same L&F on both my linux boxes and my win98 machine....

    I don't think this tell anything. The app should L&F the user wants it to (as set in the OS/GUI), not the way the app thinks the user wants it to. I find StarOffice most annoying *because* it looks like Windows (95) in a window. It even crashes every 20 minutes... :-(((
  • has anyone noticed that one star is buying another? ... sun starr ... celestial bodies ... all they need is to buy some Moon Inc or something and we'll ahve a set
  • Bites them on the ass,
    but StarDivision knows not
    customer service.
  • did you first do the root install with option /net?

    and then normal install for each user?

    (like it says in the instructions)

    I have it installed multi-user here without problems, everything in /usr/local/Office51 and an Office51 directory of 2MB in each users homedir. Even SO3 could do this.

    I'll agree with you though that it's in serious need of a diet.
  • I don't really see the big deal here.

    If Sun do buy StarOffice and market it there may very well be more copies of StarOffice sold than there are now. But I don't think it will be because of the cross-platform nature of the product.

    Most people use a wp/spreadsheet/whatever because it's:

    • installed on their PC (witness the popularity of MS Works or Claris Works among school projects)
    • what they are given at work
    • produces file formats that their customers expect
    Where I work I have a choice between Word/Excel and Lotus SmartSuite. 90% of the documents on the lan are created using MS products - so that's what I use. This is the only criteria by which I choose the tool. Whether or not the apps are cross-platform (they are) doesn't make a difference to me.

    A very small percentage of use more than one OS in real life so a cross-platform office suite isn't a deal making must have feature, IMHO.

  • What "suite" do you have? So far only the wordprocessor is available.
  • As far as I can tell, Sun's more recent OpenStep-related acquisitions were deliberately and clearly made in order to support Java development. There was nothing stealthy about it.
  • The Register is a vast joke. And you guys call that "well-sourced"! Hey, you really should take some lessons in journalism!
  • Did I say it was fast ? I said it was fast-er. Thats on a PII 400. I think the most effusive I got was to say it was 'acceptable' (ie the speed of Win3.0 on a 386SX-16, or X+Motif on a Sun3/50 :-)
  • Anyone remember Island Graphics' range of productivity tools?

    Anyone use them before that, when they were SunWrite, etc etc etc?

    Been here, seen this.

    The main reason I thought people were leaving M$ Office, apart from the cost and the forced upgrades through file-format changes (which are huge reasons in themselves of course) is that they didn't want to buy these tools from a proprietary OS manufacturer, as that tied them to the proprietary OS...

    I just hope Sun are very careful about keeping this completely cross-platform, and as up-to-date on each platform, or they'll kill it =OZ

  • I had the same reaction when I read this news. But I wonder what Sun would gain by killing the OS/2 version. They'd piss off a lot of people and the X-platform technology is already there!
  • by The Devout Capitalis ( 64464 ) on Monday July 26, 1999 @12:14PM (#1783179)
    Yes. It's slow.
    1. I know that many of the JavaSoft division used StarOffice on the evaluation license because of Scott McNealy's directives to avoid MicroSoft Office. The file import and export routines worked well, and this allowed Sun employees to exchange Word files with the rest of the universe. It worked adequately on Solaris and various Windows platforms. The speed issues kept getting killed by Moore's law as we upgraded machines. It was unusable on the old Mr.Coffee Javastations, but so was everything.

    2. One idea floating around Sun that never picked up steam was to help the industry formalize file formats. Remember that this was at the time that JavaSoft was the only group being able to pound out a working standard with reference code and conformance tests in under a year. The goal would be to work to disrupt the MicroSoft cash flow by creating a consortium of Lotus, Novell, Corel, StarOffice, Adobe, Oracle, and others to make a standardized, testable, and brandable file format that would allow new add on products and to cut of the monopoly profits from Office. There were a lot of fish frying, and this one never picked up steam.

    3. Notice that the lack of standardized formats does kill innovation. Oracle has had some cool doucment summarizing technology for a long time. Other companies really understand how to manage change logs. None of these companies can afford changing file import formats everytime Microsoft has a whim.

    4. The MicroSoft Office monopoloy grinds out long feature creep lists, and it works on the incredibly complex file formats. There are a couple companies doing reasonable business who spend their life reverse engineering the MicroSoft Office file format. I actually read an early draft of a paper describing the likely proprietary moves that Microsoft could make with XML and patent protection as part of the file structure. It's fairly nasty.

    5. If Sun finally does buy these people out, Scott will probably make it free for individual users. The basic rule doesn't change; Sun wants you to use a Unix workstation instead of a PC.
  • I think that Microsoft has cornered the market on the wintel environment. However, their (current) plans not to support Linux leaves an opening. This is the market that Corel is trying to capture now and as Linux grows so will their market share.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does anyone have a link to the article in c't (even if it is in German)?

    Check [] it out.
    And yes, it is in German.
  • This is a quote from scott mcnealy, right? Or is it Kant?
  • I've been using it, albeit not an obscenely large amount. I just don't need to create a lot of big documents or spreadsheets...

    I've been fairly happy with it, it pops up pretty quickly on my computer and it seems to run okay, how big does a document need to be before it really starts to slow down or is it always slow? I've run it on a p2-300 (128MB) and a p3-450 (256MB) and it ran acceptably on both, or at least I thought it was acceptable. Fonts good look better though.

    My biggest problem is that it is such an MS Office knock-off. There doesn't appear to be a lot of original thinking in the product. I've never really been fond of office, I really liked Ami Pro as a word processor back in the day, it was lean and mean, not a lot of complicated buttons and stuff.

    Sun buying them might be good if sun is committed to the product. They could really put out a good office competitor.

  • by Shemp ( 11349 ) on Monday July 26, 1999 @12:29PM (#1783185) Homepage Journal
    I've used StarOffice for about 6 months on my Linux workstation at work, opening and saving mostly other users Office97 documents. My system is a PII-233 with 192 meg of memory, and sometimes StarOffice is very slow. Sometimes it consumes 40% of the cpu for no reason until I shut it down.
    However, it's still my program of choice for word processing. I have had very good success reading/writing MSOffice files, and the tools that it comes with work well alone and with each other.
    I tried WordPerfect for awhile, but it was way too quirky to use day-to-day. My biggest complaint about StarOffice is it's size and lack of speed, but it does what I need it to do, and that's what I look for in an office suite.
    I'm thinking of purchasing a license to put it on all 12 of my Linux systems in my computer lab here at the office (I teach some networking classes and soon some Linux classes) to teach people basic word processing/office type skills.
    StarDivision also has a very nice package for schools called "Software in Schools". For something like $200, you can get a site license of StarOffice (any platform, I think) plus licenses for the teachers to install it on their systems at home. A school lab with Linux and StarOffice can make a very cost effective solution for a school where the budget is already stretched very thin.
    I hope Sun uses it's market share to push StarOffice and continue to improve the product.

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?