Sun Extends Office Alternative to Solaris x86 Platform

Sun Microsystems on Wednesday released a version of its StarOffice 7 office productivity suite for the Solaris x86 platform. Company reports platform is capturing new desktops away from Microsoft.

Sun Microsystems Inc. on Wednesday released a version of its StarOffice 7 office productivity suite for the Solaris x86 platform.

StarOffice 7 for the Solaris operating system x86 platform is priced at $79.95 and is available via download. The software is targeted at those customers wanting an alternative to the Microsoft Windows desktop solution.

Todays announcement underscores Suns continuing commitment to offer customers choice while addressing the growing worldwide demand for alternative desktop solutions, John Loiacono, Sun vice president of operating platforms, told eWeek in an interview on Wednesday.

While Sun was taking its software and putting this on multiple platforms, it was also making sure that its software ran "first and foremost on Suns platforms. We shipped the Java Enterprise System on both x86 and Sparc hardware, and we had StarOffice running on Sparc, Linux and Windows.

"So now we also have it running on x86. As we announce new products or upgrade older ones, you will see us continue to make sure our entire portfolio runs on Solaris Sparc and Solaris x86 on the same day," he said.

"The availability of StarOffice 7 for Solaris x86 not only extends the benefits of the Solaris operating system, but offers current customers an affordable, open, multi-platform desktop solution alternative," Loiacono added.

/zimages/3/28571.gifTo read eWEEK Labs review of StarOffice 7, click here.

That is good news to some Sun customers, like Bruce Riddle, a Unix consultant at Agere Systems Inc. in Allentown, Pa., who said that this latest announcement shows Sun is on track to provide Java Desktop System availability on Solaris x86.

"By providing StarOffice 7 support for Solaris x86, Sun demonstrates it is actively listening to the community and is committed to meeting those needs," he said.

Meanwhile, Sun continues to report customer and partner momentum for both its StarOffice productivity suite and for Solaris on the x86 platform. The Santa Clara, Calif. company also announced on Wednesday that one of the largest insurers in India, the United India Insurance Company, had replaced 10,000 Microsoft Office desktops with StarOffice software to gain increased functionality at a more economical price point.

This follows Suns recent announcement of a multimillion dollar deal with Sourcenext Corp., a leading Japanese computer products distributor, to provide the Japanese version of StarOffice, known as StarSuite 7, to 15,000 retail locations in Japan and via Internet downloads.

In addition, the number of cumulative downloads for StarOffice and had grown to more than 40 million by this January, with Sun also reporting more than half a million registered Solaris operating system x86 licenses in 2003.

Loiacono said the company plans to offer the Java Desktop System for the Solaris OS x86 platform later this year, Loiacono said, adding that this would give customers with a pre-integrated, comprehensive, out-of-the-box desktop alternative.

But Loiacono conceded that there would never be as many applications available for Solaris x86 as there is for Solaris Sparc. While there are 12,000 applications available on Solaris Sparc, there are currently some 1,100 applications available for Solaris x86, he said.

"You are never going to see this get to 12,000, but most users only need a key 100 or so applications. Today, applications such as Mozilla 1.6, incorporating the Firebird Web browser, Thunderbird e-mail and newsgroup client; Macromedia Flash; and now StarOffice 7; are supported on the Solaris platform."

"We have also reinvigorated our market-development team to go and focus on Solaris x86 application capture, and they have a done a great job. We have gone from zero to about 60 percent of the key ones we need in just six months," Loiacono said.

Last August, Sun said it had added 100 new third-party systems and 100 new components to its Hardware Compatibility List, for the Solaris x86 operating system Platform Edition.

Suns commitment to Solaris on x86 followed months of indecision in 2002 and a rollercoaster ride of customer pressure and company reversals.