According to a CNET
article, Apple and Sun are cooperating on a version of Sun’s StarOffice productivity software for Mac OS X.
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Sun has been looking for hardware allies to popularize StarOffice, a competitor to Microsoft Office, but — not surprisingly — no Wintel system makers are making much of a push to hype StarOffice, probably not wishing to anger Microsoft.
The benefit to Apple in promoting StarOffice would be, as CNET puts it, gaining “a friend to help counter its increasingly contentious relationship with Microsoft.” The Apple-Sun partnership is expected to produce a Java-based version of OpenOffice by the end of the year, followed by a commercial StarOffice release sometime in 2003.
In May, Sun released a developer version of OpenOffice for Mac OS X at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. OpenOffice — an open source version of StarOffice — provides users with a near-identical software package to Microsoft Corp.’s Office suite, featuring word processor, spreadsheet and presentation programs.
OpenOffice.org has made the developer release available to get more specialized Mac developers involved in the project. According to Sun, this is the first milestone build that developers can get hands on experience and offer the project some assistance.
“I think there’s synergy between the Mac community and the OpenOffice community in terms of the passion that surrounds what they are doing,” Zaheda Bhorat, Community Manager for OpenOffice at Sun told MacCentral, at the time of the OpenOffice release. “One of the most popular questions is, ‘when will a Mac port be available.'”
OpenOffice 1.0 — released for Windows, Linux, Solaris and various flavors of Unix — features support for XML (Extensible Markup Language), which will allow users to save files to PDAs (personal digital assistants) and other mobile devices when plug-ins for that type of file transfer are completed.
Until now, Sun didn’t specifically announce a version of StarOffice for Mac OS X. And the fact that Sun may release StarOffice for free can’t sit well with Microsoft, whose Office v. X costs US$300 to $500.
Brian Crole, Apple’s senior director of software product marketing, was reluctant to reveal the extent of his company’s commitment to Sun, according to the article. But he reportedly made clear the companies are cooperating at least to some extent on StarOffice. To facilitate the process, Apple developers “have been working in the StarOffice source code,” he added. But when things progress, Tony Siress, Sun’s senior director of desktop marketing solutions, hopes Apple will bundle StarOffice with Macs.
“I’ll give them the code,” he told CNET. “I’d love it if I could get the team at Apple to do joint development and they distribute it at no cost — that it’s their product. Nobody makes a product more beautiful on Apple than Apple.”
Adding an interesting variable to the equation is Apple’s own AppleWorks productivity suite. Though lacking the high-end features of Office (but much less expensive), the product has a legion of fans. Some folks think that Apple has “held back” development of AppleWorks to placate Microsoft. If that’s the case, AppleWorks could be in for some big changes if, indeed, Apple and Microsoft’s relationship goes sour.
Then there’s ThinkFree Office from
ThinkFree Corp.. Written from the ground up in Java, the ThinkFree Office includes: Write, a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) Microsoft Word compatible word processor/HTML editor; Calc, a Microsoft Excel compatible spreadsheet; Show, a Microsoft PowerPoint compatible presentation graphics program; Folders, a file manager for navigating and managing documents on your local drive and on your ThinkFree Cyberdrive
A Mac OS X version of the productivity suite was announced on June 17. The cost for the retail version of ThinkFree Office is US$49.95.