Ximian bundles StarOffice

Ximian on Monday gave a boost to the fortunes of Sun Microsystems's StarOffice desktop applications suite, announcing it will bundle the freshly minted Version 6.0 with a handful of its desktop products and software management services.

Desktop users and developers who now purchase Ximian's Desktop Professional Edition, or who subscribe to the company's Red Carpet Express software upgrade service and the Red Carpet CorporateConnect software management service, can now install a copy on each of their systems under those programs.

In Version 6.0 Sun has improved the suite's ability to better create, open, and modify native Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, making it easier to transparently integrate them with the Ximian Desktop.

For instance, users now have one-click attachment handling capabilities via the Ximian Evolution e-mail client, which helps speed the opening of Office files sent as e-mail enclosures to Linux-based users, company officials said.

"Both Sun and Ximian are pretty pleased about this deal because it means we can deliver StarOffice to users at a good price and give users a legitimate choice in terms of how they want to acquire a desktop productivity suite and how much they want to pay," said Jon Perr, Ximian's vice president of marketing.

Perr and other Ximian officials believe the bundling deal with Sun comes at an opportune time for StarOffice as Microsoft launches a new and controversial licensing plan in late July for many of its best-selling products including Office.

"In talking to people facing decisions about having to upgrade huge installed bases of Windows users, Microsoft [with its Corporate Assurance licensing plan] is making it harder and potentially more expensive for people during a time of tight IT budgets," Perr said. "We are hearing more and more that users are considering lower-cost alternatives," he said.

Ximian Desktop Professional Edition with Star Office 6.0 is priced at $59.95 and includes 90 days of Web-based technical support. Red Carpet Express subscriptions cost $9.95 a month or $99.95 for a year. Red Carpet CorporateConnect, which includes a single license for Star Office 6.0, is priced at $150 per seat.

Also on Monday the company announced its Ximian Connector for Microsoft Exchange 2000 which ties together Solaris 8.0 and Linux users of Ximian's Evolution e-mail and information management application so it can interoperate with Exchange 2000.

"Solaris workstation users in the larger corporations have been telling us they have a strong need for a cost-effective way to make their systems better interoperate with their company-wide Exchange 2000 standard. We think this gives them a way to integrate those users at a reasonable cost for deploying and supporting parallel PCs or mail systems," said David Patrick, Ximian's president and CEO.

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