Sun and Apple not working on StarOffice for Mac

Sun Microsystems Inc. and Apple Computer Inc. have no concrete plans to codevelop a version of Sun's StarOffice productivity suite for the Mac OS X operating system, two open-source developers and a Sun official said Monday.

StarOffice is currently available for Microsoft Corp.'s Windows, Sun's Solaris and the Linux operating system. Sun and Apple have talked about creating a version for the Mac OS X, but there are no concrete plans to do so, said Tony Siress, Sun's senior director of desktop marketing.

StarOffice, a commercial software product, is based on the open-source OpenOffice productivity suite developed by the OpenOffice.org group of volunteer developers. Sun funds the maintenance and operation of the OpenOffice.org Web site, but developers work for free on the project.

An alpha version of OpenOffice for the Mac OS X already exists, work which has been spearheaded by developers Ed Peterlin and Dan Williams.

Sun held a conference call with the two OpenOffice developers on Monday to clarify that Sun and Apple aren't working on their own project to create a version of OpenOffice for Mac OS X by year end and then follow that release with a commercial version of StarOffice in 2003, as was reported in the press recently.

"It had us a little concerned," Williams said. "The reports had the effect of making us think Sun was developing this secret project with Apple ..., and, of course, that was news to us."

Sun has been in ongoing talks with Apple to see "what it would take" to make a version of StarOffice that had the look and feel of an Apple application, Siress said. These talks, however, are really little more than the same theoretical discussions that have been going on over the last couple of years, he said.

Peterlin and Williams said it would take one to three years from now for them to make an "Apple ready" version of OpenOffice on their own. The developers want to add all of the bells and whistles typical of Apple applications and tie the software into Apple's Aqua user interface.

"My goal is to have the best Mac OS X office suite available," said Peterlin. "We need to get the engineering work done before we put the wheels and chrome on it. Eventually, it will have the Aqua look and feel that is standard to a Mac user."

With more developer help and contributions of resources from Sun and Apple, a polished version of OpenOffice.org for Mac OS X could be completed in a year or less, Peterlin said.

But Siress said that Sun and Apple aren't planning to devote engineering resources to the project right now.