Feeds

Google and Sun tag team MS Office

StarOffice joins free Google Pack

High performance access to file storage

Google has given web users yet another reason not to use Microsoft Office.

On Saturday, the very unofficial Google Operating System blog noticed that the Mountain View outfit was offering a completely free version of Sun Microsystem's StarOffice 8, the office productivity suite that Sun sells for $70 a pop. When contacted, Google confirmed that its version "includes all the major functionality of the paid consumer version."

The suite is available as part of the Google Pack, a free collection of downloadable applications first launched in January of 2006. The Pack offers several apps owned by Google itself, including Google Talk, Google Toolbar, Google Earth, and the sleek photo-manager Picasa. But you'll also find third-party tools, such as the Adobe Reader, the RealPlayer, and Skype's voice-over-IP client.

StarOffice boasts a word processor, a spreadsheet, a presentation tool, a personal database, and more, and though it doesn't provide support for Microsoft's new XML-based Office 2007 formats, it does handle Redmond's older MS file types. Plus, it can save files as PDFs.

Yes, web users already have free access to OpenOffice.org, an open source suite that uses the same base StarOffice code, but this doesn't include several features available only with Sun's version, including clip art, additional fonts, and tools for making the switch from the ubiquitous Microsoft Office.

What's the arrangement between Google and Sun? We're not sure. Google spokesman Clarissa Horowitz did tell The Reg that the company does not accept payment for including an app in Google Pack, but that doesn't rule out Google tossing some money at Sun.

"We partnered with Sun to make a free, fully-featured version of StarOffice because we believe Star Office provides great value to the user," was all Horowitz would say. But The New York Times reports that Google is indeed paying Sun, citing "a person familiar with the arrangement between the two companies."

Will Sun continue to offer a for-pay version of StarOffice? Does Google's free version offer the same customer support as Sun's? Again, we don't know. Google won't tell us, and Sun won't return our phone calls. It should be noted, however, that Google's version works only with Windows. Sun also sells a Linux version.

In any event, the two companies surely see their partnership as another way of weaning users off Microsoft Office. Google already offers browser-based word processor and spreadsheet apps, collectively known as Docs & Spreadsheets, and it will soon add a browser-based presentation tool that competes with Microsoft PowerPoint.

Update

Sun has phone backed. The company will continue to sell StarOffice at the same price: $70. Unlike Google's free version, Sun's for-pay version includes customer support and free upgrades for life. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
Microsoft: Windows version you probably haven't upgraded to yet is ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of Windows 8.1 will no longer support patches
OpenSSL Heartbleed: Bloody nose for open-source bleeding hearts
Bloke behind the cockup says not enough people are helping crucial crypto project
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support
Gov't IT likened to 'a Model T with a lot of things on top of it'
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.