StarOffice 6.0 Gains Early Support

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2002-04-01 Print this article Print

As Sun Microsystems Inc. readies its StarOffice 6.0 suite for a May release, some enterprises are already planning to rip out existing desktop productivity suites for the new product.

As Sun Microsystems Inc. readies its StarOffice 6.0 suite for a May release, some enterprises are already planning to rip out existing desktop productivity suites for the new product.

Eric LeSatz, vice president of IS administration for A.B. Watley Inc., a stockbrokerage on Wall Street in New York and a current user of StarOffice 5.2, is looking to make StarOffice standard in his office, supplanting Microsoft Corp.s Office.

"The pricing and licensing problems we have had with Microsoft around Office are the primary reason why I want to move the entire company onto StarOffice," LeSatz said. "While just 25 percent of our staff currently use it, I plan to change that when Version 6.0 is released."

A.B. Watley officials have been testing the StarOffice 6.0 beta and are impressed with the significant improvements in terms of functionality and relative ease of use.

While Mike Rogers, vice president and general manager of desktop and office productivity at Sun, in Cupertino, Calif., acknowledged that enterprise adoption is likely to be gradual, "even a modest gain in market share in this multibillion-dollar industry will generate significant revenue," Rogers said.

Microsoft officials in Redmond, Wash., however, dismissed any significant potential threat from StarOffice.

"Hundreds of millions of customers have already chosen Microsoft Office because it provides them with the highest value based on compatibility, total cost of ownership, productivity and confidence in Microsofts ongoing commitment to innovation," said Nicole von Kaenel, product manager for Microsoft Office XP.

Sun last week announced that StarOffice 6.0 will not be offered as a free download, as is the case with its Version 5.2 of the product.

While Rogers declined to give pricing and licensing details for Version 6.0, he said the software will be provided on a tiered, per-user structure that kept StarOffice as the "most affordable desktop productivity suite."

Sun will also offer service and support contracts around StarOffice 6.0 for help desk and end users as well as training, software upgrades, and deployment and migration services.

Sun found that enterprise users were not adopting StarOffice 5.2 in any significant way because they questioned Suns commitment to a product the company is giving away for free and that does not come with support and training, Rogers said.

"I have no problem paying for StarOffice, as this will still be far more affordable than Microsoft Office while meeting all our needs," LeSatz said, welcoming the support and additional services that will be offered with the new version.

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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