Sun Microsystems Inc. will release the first beta of StarOffice 6.1 next week, further heating up the competitive war in the office desktop productivity market.
News of the upcoming StarOffice 6.1 beta, which is focused on the corporate and enterprise customer, follows that from Corel Corp., which on Wednesday unveiled the first beta of WordPerfect Office 11, expected to be available in North America late next month.
For its part, Microsoft Corp. next week is expected to release the second beta for Office 2003, formerly code-named Office 11, which is due for final release by mid-year.
Suns product line manager for StarOffice, Iyer Venkatesan, told eWEEK in an interview Thursday that the first StarOffice 6.1 beta will be available as a free download for the general public, but will be limited to 50,000 participants. "We are screening participants in the first beta to make sure all the platforms and languages are fully represented.
"We have already had more than 10,000 pre-registrations for the beta and are also working with our current enterprise customers to participate in the program," he said.
The first beta program will run for about two months, followed by a second beta in early May that will be restricted to a handful of enterprise customers and a few public consumers. That program will also run for about two months, with the final release of the product slated for early fall.
"The 6.1 release is really an enterprise-focused release, and a lot of the feature-set is geared toward the larger corporate market as opposed to the consumer market. We have added accessibility to the product, which allows people with physical disabilities to use it.
"This will now help us promote the product with the U.S. government and its agencies, as it now meets the government requirement that all the products it standardizes and uses are accessible," Venkatesan said.