In a surprise move, Google quietly released StarOffice in its Google Pack of free downloadable programs. StarOffice is Sun Microsystems commercial office suite. A version of it, OpenOffice, is the most popular open-source desktop suite.
StarOffice 8 was released in 2005. In eWEEK Labs tests of StarOffice 8 at the time, the labs were pleased with the suites word processing (Writer), spreadsheet (Calc), presentation (Impress) and database (Base) functions. In addition, the Labs had generally good results opening and creating Microsoft Office-formatted documents with StarOffice.
Since then, its compatibility with Microsoft Office formats, except for Office 2007s Open XML formats, have improved. StarOffice, unlike any version of Microsoft Office, however, can save documents in PDF (Portable Document Format).
StarOffice also ships with a Macro Migration Wizard that will aid in the migration of Microsoft Visual Basic macros to the StarOffice Basic macro language.
To read about the first virus found on StarOffice, click here.
OpenOffice.org 2.0 and StarOffice 8 share the same code base but OpenOffice has continued to evolve since 2005. Even now, the biggest differences between the two are in packaging and the fact that StarOffice includes some proprietary pieces such as clip-art, fonts, templates and Microsoft Office migration tools.
As it is currently bundled with Google Pack, StarOffice is integrated with Google Search and Google Desktop. It is not, at this time, integrated with Googles SAAS (Software as a Service) office offerings: Google Docs and Spreadsheets.
Until now, StarOffice cost $69.95 U.S. The program has been available in a free version from Sun for students, researchers and teachers.
While StarOffice is available for Windows, Solaris and Linux platforms, the version being offered through Google Pack is only for Windows XP or Vista users. OpenOffice remains, of course, available for Linux users.
For Linux and other OpenOffice users who want some of StarOffices functionality, but cant use this version, a good place to start looking is Solveig Hauglands OpenOffice Blog. For example, for clip art Haugland recommends going to such site as Open Clip Art Library and then adding the art to your OpenOffice gallery using her instructions.
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