Sun to Charge for StarOffice

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2002-03-19 Print this article Print

Sun Microsystems Inc. confirmed Tuesday that it will charge users for the next version of its desktop productivity suite, StarOffice.

Sun Microsystems Inc. confirmed Tuesday that it will charge users for the next version of its desktop productivity suite, StarOffice. Mike Rogers, Suns vice president and general manager of desktop and office productivity, in Cupertino, Calif., said that the Sun-branded version of StarOffice 6.0 will not be offered as a free download from Suns site when it becomes available in May. StarOffice is Suns open-source suite that includes word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and database applications for Solaris, Windows and Linux platforms.
Rogers declined to give specific pricing and licensing details, saying these would be announced closer to the product release in May. But he said the software would be provided on a tiered, per-user structure to keep StarOffice as the "most affordable desktop productivity suite."
StarOffice 6.0 will include service and support contracts for help desk and end-users as well as training, software upgrades and deployment and migration services. Suns decision to charge is based on research that showed enterprise users were not adopting StarOffice 5.2, the current version of the product, in a significant way because they questioned Suns commitment to a product it was giving away for free and which did not come with support and training, Rogers told eWEEK in an interview. "People want to know that a company will step up and stand behind a product for the long term. These are not decisions that are made lightly at the enterprise level. What we heard loud and clear from them is that we needed to bundle support, offer training as well as migration and deployment services," he said. Sun will direct sell StarOffice 6.0 into the enterprise through its own sales force and continue to distribute the product through hardware OEMs, Linux distributors and software vendors. The product will also be offered through various retail channels at a cost of less than $100 a copy, he said. The retail package would include a software CD and user manual, some 60-days of Web-based training, support for a single incident or problem, and availability on the Linux, Solaris and Windows platforms, he said. Sun currently offers StarOffice 5.2 as a free online download or on a CD for a nominal charge. However, "a build of the [6.0] product will still be available for free download from the Web site," Rogers said. "But this will not be an identical product as some technologies like certain file filters, some of the special fonts and some of the linguistic technologies found in StarOffice will not be part of the OpenOffice build." This is primarily due to the fact that the technologies are proprietary and under license and could therefore not be open sourced by Sun. The open source community had stepped in and were working on providing those missing elements in the OpenOffice version. is the site that hosts the StarOffice source code. "So, the two products will be similar but not identical bit for bit. StarOffice will thus become the product with the Sun brand on it, with bundled support and training and with a commitment from us to stand behind the product and commit to future releases. This product has a roadmap that includes the version that evolves for Web services and ties into SunONE," he said. "So were now satisfying the needs of both marketplaces: those who want a free version of the product with no support and those who are prepared to pay for a packaged offering that includes support and training. Sun is committed to an OpenOffice build of the product as we move forward with future releases," he said. Related stories:
  • Review: StarOffice Offers IT Real Choice
  • Users Swarm to StarOffice 6 Beta
    Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

    He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

    He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

    He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

    He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

    He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

    His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

    For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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