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Sun gives StarOffice ninth life

$34.95 for 3 support calls, update button

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Little more than a month after the release of OpenOffice 3.0, Sun Microsystems has officially unveiled a major update to StarOffice, the OpenOffice twin that comes with a price tag.

Like OpenOffice 3, released to great fanfare in mid-October, StarOffice 9 can run on Mac OS X, a computer operating system used by a well-known worldwide cult. Plus, you'll find all sorts of other nifty new improvements you could just as easily get from OpenOffice, including a revamped "Start Center" front end, new icons, better PDF handling, a 1024-column spreadsheet, a tool for solving optimization problems, and more.

"Over 1,600 new features have been added since StarOffice 8," senior product manager Iyer Venkatesan told The Reg. "We've improved file sharing, ease of use, and productivity."

Yes, all 1,600 are also available from OpenOffice. StarOffice and OpenOffice use exactly the same open-source binary code base. But unlike OpenOffice, StarOffice will cost you money. A downloaded copy - available here - is $34.95. A shrink-wrapped retail box is $54.95 (MSRP). And volume pricing for enterprises and medium-sized businesses begins at $25 per employee head.

But you don't have to pay as much as you would have paid for StarOffice 8, which debuted three years back and sold for $69.95 per download.

Why would you pay for StarOffice 9 rather than download the free OpenOffice? Well, StarOffice gives you three free support calls - if you call within 60 days of buying. And there's a built-in update tool that automatically downloads new code when Sun spruces things up.

Or you may find yourself paying for StarOffice simply because you don't know any better.

You can also purchase enterprise support for StarOffice. But Sun offers this for OpenOffice too. ®

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