Sun Readies StarOffice 8

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HANOVER, GERMANY -- Sun Microsystems plans to ship StarOffice 8 by the end of August, and to add Russian, Polish, and Dutch versions of the productivity suite within a year after that.

StarOffice, Sun's product to rival Microsoft's Office, is available in 11 languages. To expand the market, Sun plans to add five more language versions within a year after shipping StarOffice 8, the newest version of StarOffice, says Michael Bemmer, director of software engineering for StarOffice at Sun.

Sun selected Russian, Polish, and Dutch as three of the five additional languages for StarOffice 8. The company is still debating the two other language versions, Bemmer says. He spoke in an interview at the CeBIT trade show here.

Sun released a beta test version of StarOffice 8 last month at the LinuxWorld event in Boston. The update promises better interoperability with Microsoft's Office product and an improved look and feel.

"Ease of use is one of our main topics, lowering the training costs for new users and easing the migration" from Microsoft Office to StarOffice, says Bemmer.

Version 7

StarOffice 8 succeeds StarOffice 7, which was released in late 2003. Over 40 million StarOffice licenses have been sold since Sun acquired StarOffice maker Star Division in 1999, says Carsten Muller, a product marketing manager at Sun.

StarOffice 7 sells for $80 per copy. Volume licenses are available. Sun also sells StarOffice as part of its Java Desktop System suite, which also includes the Linux operating system and the Mozilla Web browser.

StarOffice is based on, a free open source Office suite, for which Sun says it does over 90 percent of the engineering work. StarOffice and together hold about 7 percent of the installed Office suite market, Muller says.

StarOffice is currently available in Chinese (simplified and traditional), Korean, Japanese, Brazilian Portuguese, German, English, French, Spanish, Italian, and Swedish. The beta of StarOffice 8 is available for download, in English only.

To see PC World's complete CeBIT coverage, check out our CeBIT 2005 news page.

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