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
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
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