Sun Microsystems will this week preview the new StarOffice 8 and the Java Desktop System (JDS) release 3 at LinuxWorld in Boston.
JDS release 3 has been in beta since last year and will start shipping in the second quarter of 2005, Herb Hinstorff, director of Sun's Client Systems Group, told vnunet.com.
Sun will also launch the StarOffice 8 beta, although a date for the application itself has not yet been set.
JDS is Sun's version of a Linux desktop operating system, build on top of the SuSE Enterprise Server 9 kernel. It includes tools such as email and calendar software and a browser. Customers pay $50 per user per year for the suite.
For JDS release 3, Sun has put the emphasis on eliminating the switching costs for Windows users.
"JDS was designed to make it very easy to interoperate in a world with a lot of legacy PCs. The user interface is immediately familiar to a Windows user," said Hinstorff.
The increased interoperability is a result of enhancements by Sun engineers as well as work by the open source community. Many of the improvements come as part of the Linux 2.6 kernel, which features enhanced device support and increased Windows interoperability.
The removal of barriers for users to move away from a Windows environment is also a main point of focus in StarOffice 8. "[Users] want to reduce the migration costs and the costs of training," said Manish Punjabi, group manager for StarOffice and OpenOffice.org.
StarOffice is Sun's commercial distribution of the OpenOffice productivity suite. The current version is available through the retail channel for $79.95. Sun will reveal pricing for StarOffice 8 in June or July, Manish said.
Despite Sun's improvements in interoperability, Linux on the desktop still has a long way to go, according to Gary Helm, vice president and service director for application platform strategies at analyst firm The Burton Group.
Linux made strides in the server market because the operating system allowed users to replace expensive equipment from IBM or Sun with industry standard Intel servers. But the desktop market does not offer such hardware cost savings.
"It is very difficult to justify a migration from Windows to Linux based on the return on investment [on the desktop]," Helm told vnunet.com.
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