Sun offers Mac-native StarOffice 9 suite

Sun Microsystems on Monday announced the release of StarOffice 9, their office productivity software suite. It’s available for download for $34.95; volume licensing is available.

StarOffice 9 and its open-source OpenOffice.org counterpart were developed as an alternative to Microsoft Office and other productivity software packages. StarOffice 9 incorporates word processing, presentation, spreadsheet, database and drawing software in one. It also features Mozilla’s Thunderbird e-mail client and “Lightning” extension to support calendaring. Unlike OpenOffice.org, which depends on a volunteer user and developer community for support, StarOffice is supported by Sun itself.

This release of StarOffice marks the software’s debut as a Mac-native offering. That’s because StarOffice shares code with OpenOffice.org 3.0, which made its debut in mid-October. Likewise, OpenOffice 3.0 was the first release of that software to feature native Mac OS X support.

If you’re familiar with StarOffice, changes since the last major release include support for Open Document Format (ODF) 1.2, Microsoft Office 2007 filters, improved PDF support, usability improvements to Writer, Calc, Impress and Draw, as well as Base (the database tool). Changes have been made to the user interface, developer features have been improved and more. This marks the final release of StarOffice 9; it was first offered as a beta version over the summer.

StarOffice 9 is the latest in a growing list of productivity suite alternatives to Microsoft Office. NeoOffice, for example, is another OpenOffice.org-derived product that runs on Mac OS X. ThinkFree Office is a Java-based office suite which runs on the Mac and also offers word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation capabilities. Google’s Google Docs also provides more limited — but collaborative — document tools for online users. Apple’s gotten into the game by offering its iWork suite, which combines word processing and page layout, presentation and spreadsheet tools.

As Macworld posted this article, Sun had not updated the tech specs of the StarOffice Web site to include Macintosh system requirements. But it’s presumed that StarOffice 9 carries the same system requirements as OpenOffice.org 3, which requires an Intel-based Mac.

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