StarOffice 6.0 No Longer Free

Sun StarOffice 6.0, the latest release of this major office suite, is

now out. Unlike the previous 5.2 release though, StarOffice is no longer

free. StarOffice will now cost $75.95 US, with lower rates for volume

purchases of right-to-use licenses.

StarOffice provides an office software suite, including a word

processor, spreadsheet, and presentation program. StarOffice can read

and write most Microsoft Office files and runs on Linux, Windows, and

Solaris. Sun bills StarOffice as an almost drop-in replacement for

Microsoft Office.

Users of the previous version of StarOffice, 5.2, will notice a major

change in version 6.0 with all the applications running separately. With

StarOffice 5.2, StarOffice provided a desktop layer that tried to take

over your screen. It had its own menu like the Windows Start menu or the

Linux GNOME "foot" menu. Many users, myself included, hated the desktop

with a passion. Version 6.0, however, allows you to run each of the

StarOffice applications, such as the word processor, separately.

The other major change is the introduction of a fee for the software.

Version 5.2 was free. Sun's marketing folks feel that by charging money

for the suite, corporate users will feel it has more value, and that

will make corporations more likely to adopt the suite. As part of the

new for-cost structure, Sun is providing support, a major issue for

corporate adoption. Changes in Microsoft licensing programs are becoming

more and more likely to drive users to look at alternatives such as

StarOffice and Sun wants to increase the StarOffice appeal to corporate

IT departments.

The new prices are a shame, since this removes a major free application

from the ranks of Linux software. But, this is a product from Sun and

they are entitled to charge what they wish. Luckily, you can download

the OpenOffice.org 1.0 suite, which has most of the StarOffice features,

from http://www.openoffice.org. Both OpenOffice.org and StarOffice are

based on the same source code.

Among the features not in the OpenOffice.org suite are a WordPerfect 8

file converter and the ADABAS database. In addition, StarOffice includes

support for the Microsoft MAPI protocol to interoperate with Exchange.

You can find out more about StarOffice at

http://wwws.sun.com/software/star/staroffice/6.0/.

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