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Sun Microsystems

StarOffice Significantly Delayed 131

Emil S Hansen writes "ZDNet has a story about StarOffice being delayed until late 2000. The reason should be that they need some more coding done. 'Remaining efforts necessary to complete the Star Product offering relate primarily to additional coding, testing, and implementation.' But they should go into beta around spring/sommer 2000. " The original release was apparently scheduled for the end of this year, so this is fairly significant delay. However, as the article notes as well, the main competition for them, Office 2000 will not be out until roughly the same time. I should have been more clear - this is in reference to the Internet versions of both Star and Microsoft Office. Update: 11/12 04:47 by Nik. ZDNet have corrected this story. StarOffice is not delayed until late 2000, but until the second half of Sun's fiscal year 2000, which, confusingly, is the first half of the actual year 2000, which Sun had already announced as planned.
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StarOffice Significantly Delayed

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  • Companies buy the server software, implement a corporate wide productivity suite over their intranet. Sysadmin job becomes easier. Saves money.

    Think intranet, not internet.
  • Is this a mix up?

    Yes, the posters here on /. are very mixed up.

    Both Office 2000 and StarOffice are out.

    Both the desktop versions of Office 2000 and StarOffice are available today. But the web-based versions are still in development.

    It is the web-based versions that the article was reporting on. I would be grateful if everyone kept that in mind as they posted responses.

    -Brent
    --
  • How was this decision arrived at?

    Well, which Productivity Suite has the largest marketshare today? If you were going to develop and market a competing product, the main competitor would be the one with the largest market share.

    Certainly Applix, Wordperfect Office, Koffice and others are competitors, but none of them have near enough marketshare to contend for the position as the main competitor.

    -Brent
    --
  • I've installed O2K on many computers in my office, as well as my home computer. Is there a significant improvement being made for a "new-improved" version by the end of 2K?? Curious...

    Yes, it will reduce your TCO dramatically because it is developed for ASP's. No longer will you have to keep installing new versions and supporting the installations, because it is run over the Web.

    -Brent
    --
  • What exactly is a web- or internet-enabled version of an office suite (either Star Office or Microsoft Office)? Does it mean a Java-like approach where pieces of the application are downloaded as needed? Or is it just installation of the standard software over the internet, maybe with a Netscape-like "smart update"?
  • Why would you ever want to do that when you can run the apps on your PC, or telephone (next years model:)

    Uh, what do you think would be cheaper and easier to implement, and much easier to sell to consumers. A phone capable of running Office 2000, or a phone capable of displaying Office 2000 running on a server across the web.

    What about a set top box like WebTV. Is it more logical to be able to run Office 2000 locally, or over the web? I have the feeling that most consumers don't care where it's running as long as it is there.

    Especially - why would you want to pay good money for the privilege?

    You have to consider the market that these vendors are focusing on. Definately low-tech consumers, who just want a low-cost way to get on the web, send email, and do word processing. That don't want to deal with installing software and keeping it up to date. A $99 box with a $20 monthly fee is exactly what will interest them.

    -Brent
    --
  • It's amazing that M$ manages to have these backward-compatibility issues any time a new version of Office is released. Will they never learn that most companies can't afford in either money or man-hours to upgrade hundreds or thousands of workstations at the exact same time and compatability with older versions is very important? Guess not, they've had plenty of chances to learn.
  • This followup [zdnet.com] article at ZDNet implies that the delays were caused by the fact that MSFT poached a few top developers from Sun's Star Division.

    Of course Sun could retaliate by GPLing the code but that would mess up their plans for becoming the next MSFT.

    Bad Command Or File Name
  • I suspect that this will play out as a trend in Open Source and quasi-open source development projects lead by the likes of Sun and Netscape(Aol). Large companies will decide to release the source to something, and fail to see the value which Open Source projects employ in the release-early-release-often model. This is unfortunate, since releasing a not-quite-there-yet, but promising version as "alpha" would get other people finishing features and fixing bugs that they needed to scratch. This is what I think Mozilla has done wrong. They release these non-functional Mx releases as code benchmarks, but fail to work on getting a nice looking, feature light version out the door so that large masses of people will USE it, and eventually have some of them join the project. They've already forgotten how fast the Australians were able to impliment real crypto back when everyone thought that Mozilla would be a usable browser in 2 months.

    NOTE: I'm not involved with either effort, but if my statements are incorrect because of my lack of inside knowledge, then they are likely to -- even more accurately -- reflect what the average Linux/Open Source user is thinking....
  • by Dimes ( 10216 )
    Isn't Office 2000 already out? I swear I have seen it floating around the office lately.

  • This is good news for KOffice [kde.org]
  • Uhm - yea - Office 2000 is already out...
  • This article is talking about the web-enabled versions of these products.
  • Yeah, I've got a CD sitting on my desk.
    What the article is refering to is MSs intent of offering Office 2000 via the web, which seems to be how StarOffice from Sun is going to be.
  • by jd ( 1658 )
    Competitors to Microsoft have to be there -first-. At the same time isn't good enough, and can even be fatal. (After all, it'll be Office 2000 that the press and pundits will focus on, and Microsoft has just this teeensy bit more spare cash for advertising.)

    If nobody -sees- the new Star Office, how can they buy it?

    IMHO, this is a vital reason for releasing at least a beta version, so that people can try it out and report bugs. It'll speed up testing, enormously. And, if they release the source, too, people can even return the bug fixes, as well!

  • now sun have the money and the time maybe they are testing it ??

    or then again maybe it was such a hack that they would not be able to ship it ontime without comeing under lots of crititism

    anyway delays to products are good (in a sense) it shows that people are thinking esp now SUN have got hold of it there would have been a running round in circles "we made lots of money" time when they should have been coding

    time is of course relitve to what you measure it by !

    regards

    john



    a poor student @ bournemouth uni in the UK (a deltic so please dont moan about spelling but the content)
  • K-Everything is where I'm at :)

    I'm still using my old copy of Applix for most things and rarely have trouble but K-Office is where I want to be.

    I sort of wrote off StarOffice when SUN took it. I've not had the best relations with Applix or I would keep using that, and as far as my relations with SUN go.. well they've been worse in the past and I don't want to get involved with them in the future. If I'm going to pay for a peice of software, which I'm not opposed to, I want a little support when upgrading (applix charging a full $149 for upgrades!)

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I have just began to play with Star Office 5.1 and I must say I like it alot. But however it seems to me that it is only able to be compared to MS Office 97. The new features offered in Office 2000 however useless do seem to be more abundant.

    I do honestly beleive though if you are planning to blindly reoutfit your company with MS Office 2000 just because it is new, then you are a fool. Good IT department heads with any sense would at least review Star Office and see what potential it has to offer for their company.


    STAR OFFICES PROS:

    1.> Star Office is offered for free by 'Sun Microsystems'
    2.> A single copy of MS Office 2000 can run you several hundered dollars.
    3.> You can download one copy of Star Office and install it on as many machines as you like without fear of the fabled Software Police conducting a raid on your company.
    4.> Personal Opinion: The new features in MS Office 2000 are not so great that they warrant the upgrade cost.
    5.> Upgrade cost for MS Office 2000 can run into the one hundred thousand dollar range or higher for large companys with thousands of computers.


    STAR OFFICE CONS:

    1.> Doesn't have as many features as MS Office 2000.
    2.> Would be a challenge to retrain end users to use a different product.
    3.> IT departments wouldn't get to waste corporate funds that could be used for useful projects or employee bonuses.


  • I don't get it... what's this all about?
    StarOffice works great on RedHat 6.1 which
    supposedly is glibc-2.1, right?

    Baffled,

    Uwe
  • It's a pity that they haven't really announced it, but applix's web based office suite is up and running at applixanyware.com [applixanyware.com].

    Maybe it's still in beta, but it worked for me when I had to convert a word file to html a while back. I'd use it more, but I'm stuck at 26.4.
  • You are right about MS being scared about new stuff comming out. But you are wrong about them doing nothing.

    For a long time, even after Sun announced their intention to develop an applications portal, Microsoft claimed that consumers *didn't* want to run applications over the web. It wasn't until shortly after Sun's announcement that MS also announced their plans.

    We wouldn't have a web-based Office 2000 from Microsoft if it hadn't been for Sun. I think Microsoft made that quite clear before their about-face, that they didn't intend on developing one.

    Most of their products were developed, not becuase of Microsoft innovation, but because someone else announced that they were going to do it, or were already doing it and Microsoft wanted that market, possibly to also protect the markets they had.

    Look at IE ... it is way better then any version of netscape ever was.

    First, would there have even been an IE if Netscape hadn't existed. Microsoft developed IE simply because they were scared of Netscape.

    Second, Netscape 1,2 and 3 were undoubtedly better then IE. It wasn't until Microsoft had closed Netscape out of the market that Netscape didn't have the funding to be able to continue to innovate. The only reason that IE is better then Netscape now is that Microsoft cut off Netscapes only way of generating the income to continue to innovate.

    To say that IE is better then Netscape because Netscape wasn't as good is like me tripping you in a race and claiming that you lost because you were too clumsy.

    Also, when Mozilla comes out, then we'll see which is better :)

    -Brent
    --
  • I agree mostly but ...

    Would be a challenge to retrain end users to use a different product.

    I don't think any training is needed at all..
    StarOffice rips off MS Office's look'n'feel. If you know MS Office, you can use StarOffice.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Like GPL really helped netscape. Wheres 5.0 again?
  • While there is a lot of media focus on Sun's purchase of Star division, it would have been an huge opportunity to be able to offer Star Portal sooner rather than later. Sun got coverage of StarPortal "for free" while it was promoting Star Office. Companies would have been more encouraged to look at StarPortal when they have just recently used Star Office. Unfortunately, StarPortal have been diluted to "vapourware" talk... StarPortal will be forgotten when interest in Star Office dies down.

    Since StarPortal will be offered at the same time as the office 2000 version, sun will find itself overshadowed by Office 2000.

    Realistly, Microsoft will steal the limelight, and Star Portal will be more of a side issue. Had star office been released in December, it would have been able to gain market share ahead of Microsoft. Companies who would have started to use Star Portal, may be less encouraged to use Office 2000 upon its release. It would be more established in the market and within those companies who choose to use it.

    I really think this delay is going to cost Sun dearly - and gives microsoft an advantage - in terms of marketshare and time to spread its FUD of why we shouldn't be using competing products.

  • Does anybody have an idea when K-office will be finished. Last time I checked things looked promising. I'm particularly interested in K-Office, I'm a framemaker user right now but I'm not really happy with its interface.
  • Nope. I think you're wrong here. The market for this is large businesses who have a computer or terminal on each employee's desk.

    I am wrong, but only sort of. Actually, there are a few different markets that this will do strongly in. Intranet usage will be huge, I agree.

    I just was focusing on one market segment, the one that would tend to use iPhones and set-top boxes. Not to imply that there was any other, or any bigger markets.

    -Brent
    --
  • "Of course, that won't prevent Sun (or Microsoft) from producing a shoddy product, and the tech press from reporting on it accurately."

    How do you define "shoddy"? Often the word is simply defined as "not Microsoft.

    The press is biased. No matter how hard you try, if it's not a Microsoft product, then it is not any good.

    -Brent
    --
  • Star Office for the Internet has not been released like someone really cares. It will be a day in hell before I start paying for each and every use (pay per use). Corel has the same plans with Word Perfect (only 9.99/mth). As far as I am concerned this is method of gouging the consumer and taking direct control away from the user. Good luck Sun, Corel, and Microshaft.
  • You're still being stupid - if MS was to release Office as a web-edition it would not be in the current form.

    They'd make it into a client-server system using something like ActiveX or Java (or something similar).

    It's going to be small - and there's no reason to think you'd have to download the plugin (or however they set it up) more than once. What you're doing is spreading FUD... About Microsoft. You're just as bad as anyone else.

    -----------

    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • I mean, what exactly "over the web" suite is?

    1. SunRay-like thing with application running on the server and low-level screen-copying to terminals?

    2. X or X-like thing with application running on the server and remote drawing on window system level with multiple applications independently talking to one screen?

    3. The same with high-level widgets?

    4. The same in Java?

    5. Application, running on client with very high-level functionality (wordprocessor screen) on the client with server-based backend assisting?

    6. The same with application in Java?

    7. Application, running entirely on the client with server doing centralized configuration, administration and licensing only?

    8. The same in Java?

    9. Application running entirely on the client with server doing nothing but actual file storage?

    10. The same in Java?

    Can anyone explain, what exactly is it supposed to be in both Sun and Microsoft cases? Or is it all vaporware of the purest kind -- when no one has slightest idea, what is it supposed to be?
  • Which is perfectly above-board, sensible, honestly capitalist, and also their prerogative. This is the way businesses compete.

    If you go back to my original post, you'd notice that I pointed this out as a example of the rewards of real competition. Sun here has the same position as AMD. Would we have had cheap "Celeron" chips from Intel if it hadn't been for AMD? I would say most likely not.

    but I don't feel you can accuse them of anything illegitimate here. Why attribute it to malice when it's explained by simple stupidity?

    My point wasn't to accuse Microsoft of anything at all here. My purpose was to point out that without the innovation that Sun pursued in, we'd have never, or at least not for much longer, seen Microsoft use their "freedom to innovate". And there's nothing wrong with innovating. I believe that Microsoft should and does innovate. I just don't believe it comes very often without competition threatening to innovate first.

    Not that I am suggesting such a remedy is unnecessary for other aspects of MS's business.

    You inspired faith in me again. :) No one at all, not the DoJ, the judge, or competitors is claiming that Microsoft doesn't have a freedom to innovate. The case was about Microsoft preventing others from competing, which is illegal in America and has nothing to do with your ability to innovate. Indeed, as I tried to point out, the lack of competition often breeds a lack of innovation.

    If Microsoft really wants to innovate, the best thing they could do would be to allow and even help competitors compete strongly with them. Then we'd really see some innovation.

    As I mentioned previously, it is a symptom of a healthy market that Netscape's existence would pressure MS into responding with a competing product.

    Yes, and as I mentioned above, I think that Microsoft had a right to develop IE and compete with Netscape. However, it was illegal for Microsoft to prevent Netscape from competing.

    Maybe if they had competed fairly IE would have still been better then Netscape and everyone would have been using it anyways. But we'll never know and now Microsoft is guilty of anti-trust violations. And they deserve to be punished to the full extent of the law.

    I don't want to argue that MS didn't try to supplant Netscape unfairly because they appear to have done so, but there is ample reason to feel that they also produced a better browser while they were at it.

    Certainly no one denies that Microsoft was able to develop a quality browser. And no one denies that the browser Microsoft released this year is better then the technology that existed 2 years ago. However, what *can't* be substantiated is whether Netscape would have failed to create a browser better then IE 5 had they been able to compete in the market.

    -Brent
    --
  • by brad.hill ( 21936 ) on Thursday November 11, 1999 @08:30AM (#1542065)
    I'll agree that for now Internet distribution of apps is a completely outrageous idea.

    For a LAN however, Sun's whole idea is to subvert the PC paradigm. At my company, for example, we don't have hard disks on our desks. We use Sun servers and NCD X terms. Every time we need to do some word processing, we pull up a Citrix NT session in an X window and run Word.

    Yes, it sucks. It really sucks. But that's how dominant MS Office is. Even at a committed Unix shop, we need to be able to generate and read Word files to interact with the rest of the world.

    So, for an office without PCs (what Sun wants everywhere) running StarOffice over X is a hell of a lot better and cheaper than running an NT session + MS Office over X, which is what we're doing now.

    When you look at the BIG picture, the TCO of going with X terms or the new SunRay type appliances is much less than a PC environment for a large company. Removing the WinFrame/Word part of that equation makes it look even better. StarOffice may not integrate effectively into the PC paradigm, but that's not really the point.

    The point is that Sun doesn't have to compete with Microsoft on the PC desktop. They just have to make it possible to do business without a PC desktop, without any MS products. Then you can run your office on SunRays or super PalmPilots or that neato FreePad thing. It blows the whole thing wide open when you break the Word monopoly, which is really Microsoft's crown jewel.

  • Yes but users tend to freak when they see something new. The training envolved in the adjusting to the new feel of the application or "THE UNKNOWN" was what I was refering to.

    I am the author of that piece, sorry I didn't mean to post as AC.


    Snyper


  • I am an ex- Windows user; I'm trying to wean myself of it. In the process of doing that, I decided I needed a decent word processor for linux. So, naturally, I go download StarOffice. I finished installing it yesterday, and opened it up, and laughed so hard I cried. StarOffice may not be very fast, but it's sure as hell entertaining. The "Start" menu on the desktop... the buttons. . .hehehee. . . StarOffice seems to have learned from Windows what Windows learned from Mac. heeheeheeheeeeeeeee. . .
  • Though the Hon. Judge Jackson feels otherwise, Sun's java model is a product that competes with Windows and has done so for some years

    Contrary, Judge Jackson did feel that Java was a competitor to Microsoft Windows platform. That's why Microsoft went to such great lengths to subvert it.

    Sun, the manufacturer of StarOffice, has by no means been "prevented from competing", nor is there any realistic means by which MS could accomplish such a feat.

    Well, yes, Microsoft hasn't prevented Sun from competing by developing a StarOffice portal, that's agreed. And would seem unlikely that Microsoft would be able to prevent Sun from competing with the StarOffice portal in the future, seeing the nature of the distribution channels. Although, I'll admit, not impossible.

    Now, if you are saying that Microsoft hasn't prevented Sun from competing in the market with their Java, I'll let you go read the FoF to find out in what ways Microsoft did that.

    Only if consumers prefer MS Office to Star Office will SO go by the wayside.

    Only if Microsoft would close of all distribution channels to StarOffice would StarOffice not be able to compete. It has nothing to do with choice or quality. And if Microsoft can be kept from blocking Sun from the distribution channels that are necessary for consumers to get the StarOffice product, I think we'll see more of the 40/60 market share that you'd expect in a market with strong competition.

    Why "innovate" when what you have already works and has survived the challenge of a competing system?

    Because, uh, Microsoft claims to have a "freedom to innovate". Violating the anti-trust laws *isn't* innovating. And as you so clearly point out, it even destroys the incentive to innovate. So if Microsoft really was interested in innovating, they would have allowed and encouraged other companies to compete with them.

    Not having competition, and therefore no innovation hurts consumers and causes advancements in fields to happen in an untimely manner, if not ever.

    -Brent
    --
  • I just got through downloading StarOffice a couple days ago, I am posting from the StarOffice web browser which is at least 100 thousand times prettier than Netscape.
    What I want to know is what the new version is going to offer that everyone is so excited about? I haven't checked the Sun site, but I a very impressed with Star Office already. I would give anything if Sun would make an Star Office into a full Window Manager I love the look and feel. Yeah yeah I know it looks like Windows and that is bad, but I still really like it. (although I really really would like multiple desktops) I'd bet Windows users wouldn't know the difference, it would really help people switch to Linux. I would also like to have the ability to change colors, I HATE grey!!

  • Office 2000 uses the same formats as Office 97.
  • Well, imagine a company. Ethernet will be fast enough for this technology. And it'll save a lot of money on hardware, licenses and maintenance.
  • As I understand it, it means you don't install the software on your computer. You access it only over the net.

    Analogous to the difference between Hotmail and a local mailreader.

    It's a VERY big change... I haven't yet decided if I like the idea. It has its good and bad points. Good points include automatic upgrades, easy document sharing and universal access (access your document from any web browser). Bad points include automatic upgrades (:-) and really really big security concerns.
  • bah.. the point is about being free software. And the Netscape example shows being free software is not a magical thing that fix all problems and automatically produces high quality software.
  • I also use StarOffice under OS/2, though at the moment I've only 5.0 installed. I just picked up Red Hat 6.1, and it includes a StarOffice 5.1 CD that contains all versions, including OS/2, so I'll probably upgrade to 5.1 this weekend.

    I've a K6-2 350, and StarOffice was a dog when the machine had less than 64MB. At 64MB it became tolerable. I'm now at 256MB and it's quite nice with that much memory. Since my memory free gauge is around 130MB when I run StarOffice, I suspect it will run equally as well with 128MB.

    I use it for the newsgroups, email, and handling MS Office documents at home. The web browser has better support than Netscape for PNG images as it supports transparent background images. I've used the presentation software to create back-of-computer pictures(with all connections nicely labeled) for the OS/2 sysems I've built for family members. I've also used the spreadsheet software for minor things, and have even written some functions in StarBasic for the spreadsheets. All-in-all its quite a nice suit, with some polishing here-and-there that needs to be done

  • So since Sun is developing a product, investing money in it and giving it away for free to hurt Microsoft Office (just like IE with Netscape) does that become anti-competitive?
  • I would agree that a number of IS shops will check out StarOffice. From my viewpoint I think the killer will be import/export of Word95/97 docs and Excel95/97 files. If it can't cope with these (and I don't mean VBA macros) than IS won't adopt it.

    But under no circumstances should Sun try to out-market MSFT. You don't fight the enemy on their strong ground. Fix it, make it reliable, do a good job. That is why Linux is attractive.
  • by konstant ( 63560 ) on Thursday November 11, 1999 @09:14AM (#1542081)
    Sun absolutely should not try to compete with MS on its own turf, that being marketing and fast releases, quality be damned. It'll never beat the Redmond hype machine. Sun's strength is in a high-quality product with better value. It should stick with that strategy because it's the single biggest advantage is has over MS.

    Your insinuation being that Microsoft Office2000 is a shoddy piece of work, slapped together hastily as grist for the upgrade mill.

    I have not found this to be the case. I use Outlook2000 and Word2000 in my regular daily work, and have few complaints. O2k is leaner, faster, and more reliable than O98 while at teh same time added features I've been lacking. Word2k has some excellent XML features that make my job a ton easier, and it still boots in a matter of eyeblinks.

    When I downloaded StarOffice at home (nine hours - gak) I discovered that their metaphor appears to be "steal from the superficial appearance of MS Office but don't supply the back end support". I wasn't satisified. While I did observe crashes and bugs, their development would require heavy feature implementation rather than patches if they want to supplant the MS Office titan.

    Microsoft Office may enjoy it's dominance partly due to the monopolistic operating system structure MS holds, but I think you would have a difficult chore proving that it is not the most complete, powerful, and intelligent office suite around.

    -konstant
  • For a long time, even after Sun announced their intention to develop an applications portal, Microsoft claimed that consumers *didn't* want to run applications over the web. It wasn't until shortly after Sun's announcement that MS also announced their plans.

    Which is perfectly above-board, sensible, honestly capitalist, and also their prerogative. This is the way businesses compete. You may wish personally to ridicule MS for being wishy washy, which is understandable, but I don't feel you can accuse them of anything illegitimate here. Why attribute it to malice when it's explained by simple stupidity? And note that this healthy relationship between competitors exists prior to any "solution" imposed by the DoJ. Not that I am suggesting such a remedy is unnecessary for other aspects of MS's business.

    First, would there have even been an IE if Netscape hadn't existed. Microsoft developed IE simply because they were scared of Netscape.

    Second, Netscape 1,2 and 3 were undoubtedly better then IE. It wasn't until Microsoft had closed Netscape out of the market that Netscape didn't have the funding to be able to continue to innovate. The only reason that IE is better then Netscape now is that Microsoft cut off Netscapes only way of generating the income to continue to innovate.


    This is really a foolish pair of assertions. As I mentioned previously, it is a symptom of a healthy market that Netscape's existence would pressure MS into responding with a competing product. And as for the notion that the "only reason" IE is better is that M$ cut off Netscape's innovation budget, I would have you remember that Netscape's "innovations" frequently took the form of feature bloat (communicator, anyone?) or spec-packing (uh.. blink) - tactics people here on slashdot frequently profess to despise.

    There is also the fact that Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 was in development simultaneously with Netscape 4.x and introduces essentially no "innovations" other than speed, reliability, and compliance with XML, CSS, and other IETF specs. That is why the browser wins reviews and market share, not the "radio bar" whatever that was.

    I don't want to argue that MS didn't try to supplant Netscape unfairly because they appear to have done so, but there is ample reason to feel that they also produced a better browser while they were at it.

    -konstant
  • by Sundiata ( 113667 ) on Thursday November 11, 1999 @12:07PM (#1542086) Homepage
    Though I can't comment a great deal about the extended functionality of StarOffice, one line regarding extended featuresets in general caught me eye:

    > The new features offered in Office 2000 however useless do seem to be more abundant.

    The uselessness of features is generally true of about 95% of the functionality for any given user of an office suite. I agree that most of the features in O2K are decidedly not the type of functionality that the average person is interested in; it is important to note, however, that for each time that a user actually does use one of these obscure features, the following generally hold true:

    • That user experiences a major boost in productivity because an otherwise tedious or complex task has been automated or simplified;
    • A document that has used one of these obscure features can be edited by pretty much any other installation of that office suite (assuming either full install or ready access to the installation source);
    • The more a user can use the obscure internal functionality of an office suite, the fewer obscure function-specific applications the user will need to acquire, run, and distribute;
    • The fewer specialized applications an office needs, the less of a support headache that office is going to have.
    Thus, the average word-processing user has little use for things like column layout options; multi-editor, multi-version markup tools; flowcharting; advanced statistical analysis tools; and other niche functionalities. To users who need that one little feature, though, the ability to use the same office suite as everybody else in the office saves incredible amounts of time, effort, and frustration.

    $0.02,
    Sundiata

  • Nope. For example, Sun aren't threatening to withhold vital operating system licenses from OEM's who dare to bundle a competitor's product with their systems.
  • Well, two out of three isn't bad. If Microsoft is behind the license, "saving money" isn't the first thing that comes to mind. StarOffice is another matter altogether.

    But even so, I see this a blind acceptance of this by the general user community as somewhat shortsighted. Let's say I have one-year license with an internet service vendor, that "serves" either StarOffice, or the stuff from Microsoft. As soon as I terminate my license, access to any documents I've created using the software is effectively terminated. I may be able to import them into another software package, but this is far from foolproof.

    Privacy is another concern. Companies with the required resources can run their own servers, but what about individuals who use the software as service provided by an ISV? With software running on a local machine, at least the TCP stream can be monitored to determine exactly what's being sent, and where. If the software is running on a central server, there's no way to tell what's going on.

    I can certainly understand the appeal of this technology, but I'd tend to think that it might lock people into a particular platform. Additionally, if customers *knew* that the potential exists for monitoring everything they do, would it be just as viable?

  • If you read the bit about "free memory" you'll see I'm not using 256 for StarOffice as I thought I had 130MB free. Now that I'm home, I see I was low on the free value. I'm currently running Netscape and StarOffice, dialed into the internet, and have 146MB free. 64MB is OK to run it, though for me it works better with more as I mostly use it while I'm online. Being online means I have Netscape and other software running besides StarOffice.

    So for me, 128MB is ideal for my normal internet activities. 256MB makes my C development much nicer :-)

  • You know how you can get your e-mail over the web from yahoo? Replace "e-mail" with "office suite" and "yahoo" with "starportal" and see if you can visualize that.

    I can visualize that I can get ravioli with pesto through yahoo-mail-like interface -- this doesn't explain anything about implementation. What I want to know is how it is supposed to be implemented, and what technologies with known deficiencies (poor portability, low performance, high bandwidth use, security, etc.) will be involved.

  • Office2000 is a nice piece of work, but if it was your dime, would you pay for the upgrade from Office 97? Excluding the server extensions, there's almost no new features there (not that there needs to be).

    [I just Mr. Clippy "What's New in Excel?", and there was less than ten things listed.]

    As for startup time, don't forget the Microsoft Office DLL preloader in your startup folder. One annoying thing about Office2000 is that you apparently can't remove this - the Windows Installer just puts it back.
    --
  • The article is actually refering to the MS Office version that is supposed to be "Internet Distributed" like the plans Sun has for Star Office. Sounds like typical MS Vapourware to me, I wouldn't fancy downloading the 5 MB Word EXE file (not to mention all the accociated DLLS) just to type up a letter.
    Even Corel Office for Java (I've still got the beta lying around somewhere) was smaller than the whole word exe file. I wouldn't fancy downloading it on demand.
  • However, as the article notes as well, the main competition for them, Office 2000 will not be out until roughly the same time.
    Nope, wrong. Office 2000 is out already. The article only comments on M$'s plans for Internet distribution. Right now, you still have to truck your ass down to a store, or find another retailer online (who will probably sell it cheaper than M$ direct will).

    -Jake
  • Uhm - yea - Office 2000 is already out...

    So is StarOffice. But the web versions of either product have not been released yet.

    And don't forget, if it wasn't for Sun, there would be no web version of MS Office. Now that's what real competition does for consumers.

    Microsoft does nothing on their own. Whatever they do, it's because someone else tries to do it better. The problem is that they prevent the competition from competing and then go back to doing nothing again.

    -Brent
    --
  • The post wasn't very clear, but the article is about the versions of the software which will be accessed over the internet.
  • If it's going to threaten Office, it'll have to be really cheap.
  • Judge Jackson seems to think that if you give something away which you have spent money developing, essentially to compete with a competitors product which they are making money off of, that's anti-competitive. I can point you to the specific line in the FoF which states this.
  • I'm with you in theory on that one AC, but when you have the software monkey(s) running around installing new software on every box without thought of any consquences (or even license argeements!) it's hard to maintain order let alone compatibility or stability. If only they would let me install NT on the boxes at work... I'd perfer Linux but I'll take NT over 95/98 anyday. Yes... I am a fascist sys admin :)
  • And don't forget, if it wasn't for Sun, there would be no web version of MS Office. Now that's what real competition does for consumers.

    A situation which existed well prior to the DoJ case. Sun has always pushed Microsoft in new directions, primarily because the market is so incredibly fluid that even the basic client/server PC model that Windows relies upon cannot be assured for the next ten years with any certainty. Though the Hon. Judge Jackson feels otherwise, Sun's java model is a product that competes with Windows and has done so for some years

    Microsoft does nothing on their own. Whatever they do, it's because someone else tries to do it better. The problem is that they prevent the competition from competing and then go back to doing nothing again.

    Sun, the manufacturer of StarOffice, has by no means been "prevented from competing", nor is there any realistic means by which MS could accomplish such a feat. Only if consumers prefer MS Office to Star Office will SO go by the wayside. At which point, further "innovation" by Microsoft (by which you apparently mean dramatic revolutions in underlying software structures) would not only be pointless, but also demonstrably not what consumers want. Why "innovate" when what you have already works and has survived the challenge of a competing system?

    -konstant
  • Since all you have in the browser is the presentation layer, all of the file formatting issues are back on the Star Portal server, so if Sun decides to support other file formats, you just upgrade the server.

    And how high/low-level the interactions between server and client are? documents in intermediate format? widgets and updates? every keypress/mouse/editing command? Is protocol documented? Open? Published?

  • There is a significant error in your logic.. Everyone tries to do that, thats the way the game is played. Its only bad if your a monopoly.

    Being a monopoly is ok.

    (trying to) Doing anti-competitive things is ok.

    Doing both is a no-no.

    Its entirly acceptable to give things away for free, or significantly below the going rate provided your not a monopoly, both philosophicly and legaly.

  • "the average word-processing user has little use for things like column layout options; multi-editor, multi-version markup tools; flowcharting; advanced statistical analysis tools;and other niche functionalities."

    I would sort of disagree. I would say that the average word processing user needs ONE of the things that you suggested: and everyone needs a different ONE.

    I believe it is true that users only use 20% of the functionality of a wordprocessor: Everyone uses the same basic 10% (editor, spellchecker, etc), and everyone uses a different 10% for the rest.
  • I agree with Brad. The best thing Sun could do with it is not release anything new until they know they have a well polished, stable, efficient product. This is the way software was produced before M$ started getting the public to pay good money to test their betas. And I think it could be a positive marketing tactic in the post-Micro$oft economy. ;-)
  • by heroine ( 1220 ) on Thursday November 11, 1999 @06:25AM (#1542124) Homepage
    I'd love to get a copy of StarOffice that worked under libc-2.1. If anything that should be their primary emphasis, but I have a feeling it's more like Sun wanting to get their portal integrated in it. Sun's pledge was primarily aimed at integrating Sun's portal and advertising Sun products through the word processor and not at improving the word processor itself. But any delay is a good delay. It just allows us unemployed C++ coders to show off while the suits with their PhDCS credentials and certification watch their schedules melt away.
  • by brad.hill ( 21936 ) on Thursday November 11, 1999 @06:28AM (#1542126)
    I'd disagree with the previous poster that time to market is important in this case. Microsoft isn't going to gain any more market share in the meantime.

    The will is there, due to Microsoft's pricing, for corporate IS shops to give StarOffice a try. They'll try it now, or they'll try it in six months, because MS isn't going to drop their prices any time soon.

    What corporate IS shops don't have is the will to keep trying it. They'll allocate the resources to give it a test run once. If they find it to be a piece of junk, there aren't likely to be any second chances.

    Sun absolutely should not try to compete with MS on its own turf, that being marketing and fast releases, quality be damned. It'll never beat the Redmond hype machine. Sun's strength is in a high-quality product with better value. It should stick with that strategy because it's the single biggest advantage is has over MS.

  • As the questionmark indicates, this is not flamebait but something I would really like to see some opinions on.

    Has the AOL/Sun/Netscape deal screwed up a lot of things? Mozilla has been a fiasco for a year until they basically started over. Things look better now, but nevertheless Mozilla is still not there while Netscape 4.x series is dead. And now StarOffice gets delayed as well.

    I know this is pure speculation and very coincidential and perhaps not at all related. But it worries me a bit.

  • When Hemos says it'll be out in the same timeframe as Office 2000, what I think he meant was it'll be out in the same timeframe as the internet version of Office 2000. Yes, Office 2000 has been out for a while now.
  • I'm just hoping that sun has the money to invest in compatibility with current MS Office formats. Especially .xls. That is one of the points that I find staroffice lacking in. Otherwise I interchange fine with the rest of my office mates and thier Office products. The only reason I need really good excel compatability is for the expense reports ;)
    "We hope you find fun and laughter in the new millenium" - Top half of fastfood gamepiece
  • Microsoft Office 2000 Premium w/ Intellimouse.
    Office 2000 [cnet.com] $359.95
    Microsoft's Tech support for the Office 2000
    Tech Support [microsoft.com] Priceless? :)
    If you are running 97 and someone saves in 2000 format you will have a lot of trouble! Office 97 has 2 patches available make sure they are both installed. The 2nd patch fixes problems with Office 2000 compatibility.
  • (You are complaining... why? If you're actually any good I can get you a job yesterday. In this economy, with some of the developers I know we have signed up recently being in their late 30's-early 40's, I have to assume that any C++ unemployment is by choice.)

    StarOffice is becoming another Sun fiasco and will hopefully be ignored once AbiWord, Gnumeric, Achtung, and the like (or their KOffice equivalents) are finished.

    StarOffice is great, but Sun will do their best to screw it up, and no one needs a PhD in anything to predict that.
  • This is what I think Mozilla has done wrong. They release these non-functional Mx releases as code benchmarks, but fail to work on getting a nice looking, feature light version out the door so that large masses of people will USE it, and eventually have some of them join the project.

    Ahem! The Mx releases are available as FUNCTIONAL BINARIES that you can use RIGHT NOW to browse the Web on multiple platforms (*nix, Win32, Mac) SPECIFICALLY DESIGNED to be usable by non-developers who want to test early versions of the software.

    Download M10 right now and have it load Slashdot. It is, to quote you, "a not-quite-there-yet, but promising version" -- you'll run into some bugs, but it certainly does a decent job for pre-beta code. Just look out for the textbox bug when you post your "hey, you're right!" followup.
  • I am a software consultant and my current assignemnt is at a large army base in Texas. The Army has lots of UNIX workstations from a number of vendors. The best thing about Star Office is that it runs NATIVELY on so many of them! One current generation of systems relies upon the Windows Application Binary Interface (WABI) and Microsoft Windows 3.1 with Microsoft Office 4.0. They cannot upgrade since all of the current upgrade paths assume an X86 architecture or, at a minimum, the availability of an X86 add-in card. Neither solution set is feasible for the units which own these systems. Because of the architectural and financial constraints, Star Office is a God-send for them, regardless of any bugs or stability issues. It is still better than what they currently have.
  • I tried to migrate to Star Writer 5.1a from Word and here is what I found:

    - Simple (grid-like)tables seem to import/export without problems
    - Complex tables (anything containing a merged cell)
    import with varying degrees of success. You usually have to spend a few
    minutes with each table to cleaning them up.
    - Star office is able to import some corrupted Word files that cause Word
    to crash
    - Heading tags import but sometimes the numbering is messed up
    (easy to fix)
    - Fields, headers, and footer imported well
    - Pictures came over but were messed up. Some of the lines were missing
    and boxes appeared around all of the text. Also, it was impossible to edit
    the pictures once they were on the Star Office side.
    - I tried to use the Master Document feature but it crashed with the second
    document I tried to link in.
    - Exporting back to word, none of the pictures made it.
    - Exporting back to word, complex tables were converted to newline
    separated text.

    In short, as much as I like Star Office and see its potential IMHO it isn't
    ready for industrial strength corporate use yet (neither is Word for that
    matter). For individual documents created and edited by Star Office, it
    seemed quite stable and robust but don't expect to convert from Word
    without a lot of pain unless your document is pure text. I certainly hope they
    get the bugs ironed out since the general concepts, look, feel, and design
    are excellent. In the meantime, we're looking at Framemaker.


  • RH 6.1, Mandrake 6.1 both include glibc 2.0 compatibility libraries in /usr/i386-glibc20-linux/lib

    SOffice links against them. Netscape 4.6/4.7 *should* also be linked against them, but only Mandrake does this properly out of the two. (which is one of the reasons people keep accusing Netscape of being buggy- when on a redhat system, it's usually linked against the wrong library versions, and crashes. The other reason is that rh left out a font path in xfs config which NS JVM needs...)
  • Anonymous Coward writes:
    I don't have a clue as to the how.
    Me neither. But it makes an excellent place to post this test message in. Test, test. Ignore me. Nobody here. Uh-huh.

    --
    (domestic pets only, the antidote for overdose, milk.)
    larsi@gnus.org * Lars Magne Ingebrigtsen

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 11, 1999 @06:36AM (#1542140)
    They really should have said something about the fact that the article was about the web-enabled versions rather than the normal ones.

    Personally, I don't see *any* reason you would want to run an office suite off the 'net. Just makes it easier for them to deny you access to critical software so that you go out of business. (Outta be great for M$, whenever they want to control a new market, they just make sure that the competitors are using O2K web version, and poof, they no longer can make documents.)

    Maybe running one off a local server, like X can work, would make sense, but not for anything but *maybe* a spreadsheet, or a database. But since hard drives are dirt cheap, why would you want to waste your bandwidth like that? You'd have to upgrade to gigabit just to survive. I mean, 100 single user version licenses probably don't cost any more than 100 multi-user server licenses. Oh well.
  • ... and I tell you, it isn't very different from Office98. So if StarOffice comes out with more improvements over Office2000, it is not such a bad idea to let the release date slip a couple of months; they'll have some time to steal ideas and all that happy stuff.
  • When the source is released, hopefully it might be a simple recompile to make it work with glibc2.1
  • Competitors to Microsoft have to be there -first-. At the same time isn't good enough, and can even be fatal.

    Netscape was there first and that didn't prevent Microsoft from preventing them from competing in the market.

    If nobody -sees- the new Star Office, how can they buy it?

    Thankfully, the web version doesn't require the OEM and other channels that bundled applications required to be successful. Marketing a web version of an Application Suite is no more difficult then marketing Amazon.com or eBay.

    Of course, that won't prevent the MS press from loudly proclaiming that Sun has a shoddy product and everyone should use Microsoft's web-based products.

    -Brent
    --
  • I wouldn't fancy downloading the 5 MB Word EXE file (not to mention all the accociated DLLS) just to type up a letter

    My understanding of how web-based applications work is that the application code stays on the server - and the user inteface is presented to you over the web by some means. This of course implies that you have to pay for time and space on the server in some way. Maybe just by reading ads?

    The whole idea isn't completely ridiculous - look at the phenomenal success of web mail. But it's still somewhat ridiculous. Why would you ever want to do that when you can run the apps on your PC, or telephone (next years model:) or whatever. Especially - why would you want to pay good money for the privilege? I imagine there will be a few people - on the road or whatever - that can get access to a browser but not an office suite and therefore would be able to get some use out of something like this, but they would be few in number compared to the massive hordes of people with laptops onto which the applications can be loaded in the usual way. I have to ask again: what is the reason that people would pay good money for this?
  • by ChrisRijk ( 1818 ) on Thursday November 11, 1999 @06:48AM (#1542146)
    FISCAL 2000, not calender 2000 I've seen the same mistake made in several places...

    The SEC filing specifically states that the delay will be until 2nd half of Sun's fiscal 2000 year. However, Sun's fiscal 2000 year is 1st July 1999 to 30th June 2000. In other words, this means the final product will be out and shipping in volume by the 1st half of calender 2000. The beta will be coming out by the end of this year.

    Still, it does mean StarPortal will be 3-6 months later than previously stated...

    on a happier note, Sun have had over 1,000,000 StarOffice 5.1 downloads in the last 2 months. See Press release [sun.com]. They have a download counter on their homepage [sun.com], or go here [sun.com] for a direct link to the image. They also have a download counter for Java 2 SDK, and Solaris - though in the latter case, this is the number of "Free Solaris" orders... not downloads...

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