StarOffice 6.0 Gains Early Support

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.