The Cross

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2003-10-06 Print this article Print

-Platform Edge"> The Cross-Platform Edge

Aside from its lower price, one of StarOffices greatest advantages over Office is its cross-platform support. Where Office 2003 will run only on Windows 2000 and XP, StarOffice supports Windows 98, ME, NT, 2000 and XP, as well as Linux and Solaris.

StarOffice does not support Apple Computer Inc.s Mac OS X, but theres a version of that runs on Mac OS X with the X11 windowing system installed, and theres a Mac OS in the works.

We tested StarOffice 7 on machines running Red Hat Inc.s Red Hat Linux 9 and Windows XP, and the applications performed consistently on both platforms. Wed like to see StarOffice made available in RedHat Package Manager form for Linux systems, however, because this would ease software distribution and management for these systems.

On our Linux test system, we noticed that certain fonts appeared rougher-looking in StarOffice 7 than in the versions of that Red Hat and Ximian Inc. ship. Those versions of are patched to use the Fontconfig2 font library to substitute missing fonts with anti-aliased replacements.

In contrast, StarOffice replaces missing fonts with X Window System fonts that may not be anti-aliased, which accounts for the differences we noticed. However, Sun plans to use Fontconfig2 in its StarOffice 8 release, company officials said.

StarOffice 7 ships with support for exporting documents in PDF format, which is useful for distributing documents to a variety of users on different platforms. StarOffices Impress presentation application could also export its documents in Macromedia Inc.s Flash form

Conveniently, we could also save documents in Pocket Word and Pocket Excel formats, for use with devices running Microsofts Pocket PC handheld operating system, and in the AportisDoc format for use with Palm OS devices.

StarOffice comes with a filter for importing documents saved in Microsofts WordML format, which is an implementation of the DOC format in XML. In our tests, imports of simple WordML documents worked adequately, but we were unable to import more complex files that included embedded images.

We experienced faster load times opening StarOffice 7 compared with OpenOffice. org 1.0.2 and StarOffice 6; launching the application took about one-third the time with the newer version.

Previous versions of the StarOffice suite supported macro creation but not live keystroke recording for defining macros. This lapse has been addressed in StarOffice 7.

Senior Analyst Jason Brooks can be reached at

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As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at

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