The simple fact that Office 2003 will run on Windows 2000 and XP only may be just the impetus for some users to look elsewhere for their next productivity suite. SunMicro-systems’ StarOffice, which operates on Sun Solaris, Linux and Windows 98 and up, has a strikingly similar interface to Microsoft’s Office. The suite includes a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool, database client and drawing tool, with the option to plug in your own e-mail client and browser. It’s fast and less bulky than its major competitor (Office 2003 Beta 2 requires 245MB, compared to this beta’s 106MB) — of course, you’re not getting all the tools Office typically ships with.
StarOffice 6.1 Beta 1 shows improvements in accessibility for people with disabilities, offers a Configuration Manager for deployment in the enterprise, and now provides the ability to easily output documents as PDF files directly from the suite’s word processor, spreadsheet and presentation too (See here for a screenshot). Also new in this beta is a Macro Recorder for automating tasks, and the new Database Report AutoPilot, which assists users in making template-based reports.
Considering StarOffice 6.0 retails at around $180 and Microsoft Office XP upwards of $1000, the next release of StarOffice is certainly worthy of consideration — particularly if all you need are the basics.
In brief: StarOffice 6.1 Beta 1
[Beta software, not rated]
The changes in this beta may not be huge, but if you’re in the market for a new productivity suite, consider the next version of StarOffice, expected for release in September.
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