Sun slashes StarOffice cost to woo users

Sun has slashed in half the cost of its open source alternative to Microsoft Office.

The productivity suite, StarOffice 7, is being offered for a limited time at half price in a bid to attract more users.

The software, which offers word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and database capabilities, already boasts more than 35 million downloads. It is based on OpenOffice.org open source code and runs on Solaris, Linux and Windows operating systems.

Sun's ANZ software business manager Laurie Wong said the half price offer was made to encourage those people still using StarOffice 5 or 6 to upgrade before the end of the year so they did not get left behind. He stressed that each release of StarOffice would have increasing interoperability with Microsoft applications.

The $54.60 download provides the core Star Office 7 software files as a single download, and also allows customers to download all the additional files that are available with StarOffice 7 software including Adabas D, multi-user database, the add-on dictionaries for all languages, and the set up and user's guides.

Until the release of version 6, StarOffice had been available as a free download or with a nominal price to cover manuals and media. This current offer lasts until November 7.

Sun updates its Office suite at least four times a year and versions are often discounted before a new update is released. Customers will not automatically be entitled to updates and fixes unless they have purchased a yearly maintenance contract with Sun, in addition to buying the software. Star Office 8 will be launched in March next year.

Wong said that additions to expect in StarOffice 8 would include increased interoperability with Microsoft XP, cleaner drag n' drop features and info tips for Windows Explorer.

For developers, he said there would be transparent use of StarOffice components from C++, new control interfaces and increased languages.

"StarOffice 7 is already extensive in the languages it allows developers to use," he said. "It supports all Microsoft languages, C++, java, as well as all the open source favourites such as Python and PHP."

To download the StarOffice 7 go to wwws.sun.com/software/star/staroffice/get/download.html

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