Sun’s office alternative: StarOffice 7

When my hard drive died last year and my Office 2000 CDs were inexplicably missing, I turned to OpenOffice — a free download — and it’s served me well. Twelve months later and with fewer crashes, hangs and errors, I am now an alternative office convert and looking for something a little more sophisticated.

Click here for a screen shot.

Based on OpenOffice.org open source code, Sun Microsystems’ $190 StarOffice 7 is reassuringly familiar to OpenOffice but takes the productivity tools to a level competitive with Microsoft Office.

As an integrated suite, its word processor, spreadsheet, presentation and drawing tools are accessible via the Quickstarter menu in the System Tray. (StarOffice’s HTML editor and database can be accessed within the suite or via Start-Programs.) To the user, there is little difference in each tool’s interface, give or take varying menus and toolbars. The beauty of integration is this: if I’m working with a word document and need to look at a spreadsheet, I click Menu-Open and select the file — there’s no need to fire up the spreadsheet tool, it’s automatic, seamless and fast.

Also seamless is interoperability with documents created in other office suites, notably Microsoft Office. At installation you can create file associations for Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents. This enables read, write and edit functionality, so any Microsoft Word document, for example, can be opened directly from Windows Explorer, or as an e-mail attachment, just as if it were a StarOffice document. You can also choose to always save documents in Microsoft Office formats.

New with this version is Adabas data--base and simple PDF export within the suite of tools. StarOffice 7 runs on Windows, Linux and the Solaris Operating Environment.

In brief: Sun Microsystems StarOffice 7

A commendable office suite with some nice features, StarOffice is at the right price to attract a good share of the market.

Price: $190

Vendor: Sun Microsystems

Phone: 1800 628 193

URL: http://www.sun.com.au

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