The long-heralded release of Sun Microsystems' StarOffice 6.0 suite has finally become reality with general shipments for Linux, Solaris and Windows beginning next week.
Sun claims that users will experience savings of at least 75 per cent over leading fully-featured office productivity suites, in particular Microsoft Office.
Mike Rogers, Sun's desktop and office productivity software general manager, said: "Our enterprise customers worldwide are asking for freedom from unreasonable pricing and forced upgrades.
"StarOffice 6.0 provides a cost-effective, compatible open alternative for enterprises looking for substantial savings."
Sun is using a tiered per-user pricing model that works out at £20 to £40 per user based on volume, although the recommended retail price is £52.99.
In a major push for acceptance, the software will be sold through Sun's website, its direct sales force, original equipment manufacturers, resellers and retail outlets.
Education customers will benefit by only paying for the CDRom and shipping charges. Sun also supports a free version of StarOffice, offering a no-charge download through the open source project at www.openoffice.org.
StarOffice 6.0 uses an XML-based file format as its default, facilitating the use of a wide variety of tools to modify and share StarOffice content.
Among improvements over the previous release are Office XP compatibility with improved Office import/export filters, redesigned dialogue boxes, and additional templates, graphics and clip-art.
The integrated desktop has been removed so that the native operating system desktop can be used. This is typically Common Desktop Environment (Solaris), Gnome (Linux) or the Windows Desktop.
Publicity for StarOffice has resulted in testing by over 1.8 million Fortune 500 company users. If all of these become firm sales, Sun calculates they will realise total savings of around $200m.
Sun is also targeting the Asian community by providing support for Japanese, Chinese (simplified and traditional) and Korean languages among the 10 currently supported.
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